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16 Dec 2017

SC gives time on Aadhaar

TT, New Delhi: The Supreme Court on Friday approved the March 31 deadline suggested by the Centre for linking Aadhaar cards with various central and state schemes and services, including existing banks accounts and mobiles phones.

However, those who are opening a bank account but do not have an Aadhaar card will have to submit proof of application for the unique identification number.

The Centre had initially fixed December 31, 2017, as the deadline, but a batch of petitions had been filed in the Supreme Court by several aggrieved persons seeking a stay on any form of coercive measures by the government to compel citizens to link their cards with the schemes and services until a constitution bench decides on the validity of Aadhaar.

The interim directions were passed on Friday by a five-judge constitution bench of Chief Justice of India Dipak Misra and Justices A.K. Sikri, A.M. Khanwilkar, D.Y. Chandrachud and Ashok Bhushan.

This bench will on January 17 begin hearing petitions challenging the constitutional validity of the Centre's Aadhaar (Targeted Delivery of Financial and Other Subsidies, Benefits and Services) Act, 2016, on the ground that it impinges on a citizen's fundamental right to privacy.

The petitioners, including individuals and NGOs, have assailed the Aadhaar scheme on the ground that the collection of fingerprints and iris and other personal details of citizens violated their privacy, besides compromising on their confidential personal data.

Writing the interim order on behalf of the bench, Justice Chandrachud said the deadline for linking Aadhaar with all schemes would be March 31, 2018.

Existing bank accounts will have to be linked to Aadhaar numbers by that date. In case of new accounts, the applicant will have to furnish to the bank proof of application for Aadhaar and the application number.

All cellphones will have to be linked with the owners' Aadhaar numbers by March 31.

"We also direct that the extension of the last date for Aadhaar linkage to 31 March 2018 shall apply, besides the schemes of the Ministries/Departments of the Union government to all state governments in similar terms as a consequence of the extension of the deadline to 31 March 2018, it is ordered accordingly," Justice Chandrachud wrote.

PAN status quo

The Supreme Court said that with regard to the linking of PAN cards with Aadhaar, its earlier order passed on June 9 this year would remain in force.

On June 9, the court had said that if a citizen does not have an Aadhaar card, the government cannot compel him or her to link it with PAN for the filing of income tax returns or invalidate the existing PAN.

However, if a person already has an Aadhaar card or has enrolled for it, it has to be linked to the PAN card or for obtaining a PAN card, the court had ruled.

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