The Supreme Court has cautioned against waiting until the last minute to extend the deadline for linking Aadhaar numbers to welfare schemes and bank accounts. Delaying the decision on extending Aadhaar linking deadline could lead to uncertainty and confusion among financial institutions and markets, the apex court has warned the government.
The government has indicated that the March 31 deadline could be extended to allow the petitioners challenging mandatory linking of Aadhaar with various services and schemes. Attorney General KK Venugopal has assured the bench that government will take the necessary steps if the Aadhaar linking deadline has to be extended.
Meanwhile, the five-judge Constitution bench hearing the petitions has asked the government to take a call soon. The bench comprises Chief Justice Dipak Misra and Justices A.K. Sikri, A.M. Khanwilkar, D.Y. Chandrachud and Ashok Bhushan.
"There is grave state of uncertainty in the financial institutions, in the financial system. Today, they do not know where they stand. They have to ensure compliance," Justice Chandrachud was quoted as saying on behalf of the Constitution bench by the Economic Times.
Justice Chandrachud pointed out the confusion that could ensue if the government decides to extend the deadline towards the end of March. Justice Sikri suggested that the government should take a call on extending the deadline by March 14, the report said.
Earlier, senior advocate Shyam Divan, who led the arguments challenging Aadhaar and its enabling Act, had asked that the deadline of March 31 be extended as it was highly unlikely that the hearing in the case would conclude. Justice Chandrachud, too, had pointed out that even if the court reserved its verdict on March 20, the banks and other institution would have only 10 days left, which might be difficult.