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Posted at: Dec 8, 2017, 2:22 AM; last updated: Dec 8, 2017, 9:40 AM (IST)

Deadline for linking Aadhaar to be extended till March 31: Centre

Deadline for linking Aadhaar to be extended till March 31: Centre

Satya Prakash

Tribune News Service

New Delhi, December 7

The deadline for making Aadhaar mandatory for availing benefits of more than 130 schemes, including linking of bank accounts with the 12-digit unique biometric identification number, will be extended till March 31 next year, the Centre told the Supreme Court today.

A notification was likely to be issued on Friday to extend the current deadline of December 31, Attorney General KK Venugopal told a Bench headed by Chief Justice of India (CJI) Dipak Misra.

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Venugopal, however, clarified that the deadline for cellphone number-Aadhaar linking would remain February 6, 2018, as ordered by the top court in another PIL that dealt with national security issue.

CJI Misra said he would set up a Constitution Bench next week to hear petitions challenging Aadhaar Act and related government notifications and see if any interim orders were needed to be passed. 

A nine-Judge Constitution Bench had on August 24 declared the right to privacy a fundamental right and had said individual cases challenging the Aadhaar Act would be decided separately by a five-Judge Constitution Bench.

As senior counsel Shyam Divan, representing petitioners, requested the court to ensure that no coercive action was taken against those not submitting the 12-digit unique biometric identification number, Venugopal said he was ready to defend Aadhaar. Divan wanted the ongoing Aadhaar enrolment process to be stayed.

The Attorney General opposed it, contending that in such a situation nobody would bother to submit Aadhaar. “There cannot be a stay on the Aadhaar scheme which has gone on for years,” he said. Venugopal said a data protection committee headed by former SC Judge BN Srikrishna was likely to submit its final report to the government by February next.

The Supreme Court had on November 3 asked banks and mobile telecom service providers to inform their customers about the last date for linking accounts and mobile numbers with Aadhaar.

A Bench headed by Justice AK Sikri had, however, refused to stay such linking, noting that all Aadhaar-related matters had already been sent to a Consitution Bench which would assemble much before the deadlines for Aadhaar-linking for bank accounts and cellphones.

The government had on October 25 told the court that the deadline for mandatory linking of Aadhaar to receive various benefits had been extended till March 31, 2018, for those who did not have the unique identification number but were willing to enrol for the same. 

Venugopal had submitted that all such persons would neither face any coercive action nor  be denied benefits of social welfare schemes till March 31, 2018.

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