The Supreme Court extended on Tuesday the March 31 deadline to link Aadhaar with a range of services, including bank accounts and mobile phone connections, till it delivers a final judgment on petitions questioning the validity of the law and subsequent rules making the 12-digit biometric number mandatory.
A five-judge bench led by Chief Justice Dipak Misra said the extension will not apply to government services and subsidies under section 7 of the Aadhaar act.
Section 7 is related to targeted delivery of financial and other subsidies, benefits and services. This means those getting subsidy under government schemes will be required to give their unique identity number.
The court restrained the authorities from insisting on Aadhaar for issuing passport under the Tatkal service. This was done after senior advocate Arvind Datar complained that the government had amended the passport rules in breach of the court directive not to make Aadhaar mandatory.
He showed the court colleague Vrinda Grover’s passport, which has been cancelled because she didn’t give her Aadhaar details.
“It is also directed that the same shall also control and govern the Passports (1st Amendment) Rules, 2018,” the court ordered, saying its directive shall apply to state governments as well.
The top court last December extended till March 31 the deadline for mandatory linking of Aadhaar with various services and welfare schemes. The bench is currently hearing petitioners in the case after which the government will respond. A final judgment is unlikely before March-end.
On March 7, the bench indicated the possibility of extending the deadline. It expressed displeasure over banks, mobile phone companies and financial institutions continuing to coerce people to link their Aadhaar number for uninterrupted services.
A delay in extending the deadline would have implications on financial institutions, banks and stock exchange.
Attorney general KK Venugopal had said then that the Centre was not averse to extending the deadline but there was no such immediate requirement and advised the bench to see how the case progresses.