The Supreme Court today extended the date of Aadhaar linking with welfare schemes and services till March 31, 2018. The court's order came after a clutch of interim pleas sought a stay on the government's decision to mandatorily link Aadhaar with welfare schemes and services such as bank accounts.
The top court today ruled that new bank accounts could be opened without an ID number, but that it had to be furnished by March 31.
On Thursday, a five-judge Constitution bench headed by Chief Justice Dipak Misra heard arguments in support and against the mandatory linkage of Aadhaar for nearly three hours in a packed courtroom and said it would pronounce its interim order Friday morning. The bench further said the final hearing on the petitions challenging the Aadhaar scheme itself would commence from January 17 next year.
Attorney General K K Venugopal, representing the Centre, said the government was willing to extend the deadline up to March 31 next year for mandatory linking of Aadhaar to avail the benefit of various services and welfare measures. Venugopal, however, told the bench that the Aadhaar should be allowed to remain mandatory for opening of new bank accounts.
Earlier this week, the government had issued a notification to extend till March 31 the deadline for mandatory quoting of Aadhaar and Permanent Account Number for bank accounts and certain financial transactions. However, there was no word on extending the February 6, 2018 deadline for linking mobile SIM cards with Aadhaar.
Today, the Constitution Bench modified its earlier order with regard to linking of Aadhaar with mobile services and said the deadline of February 6 next year for this purpose also stood extended till March 31.
On the issue of linking of Aadhaar card with mobile services, the Attorney General said that the deadline of February 6 next year was fixed in pursuance of an apex court direction and the constitution bench may consider extending this deadline also.
On November 27, the top court had said it may consider setting up a constitution bench to hear the pleas challenging the Centre's move to make Aadhaar card mandatory for availing various services and benefits of welfare schemes.
(With inputs from agencies)
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