Aadhaar linking deadline extended indefinitely till Supreme Court delivers order

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The Supreme Court on Tuesday said that the March 31 deadline is extended till the five-judge constitution bench delivers its judgment on petitions challenging the validity of the biometric scheme and the enabling law. There should be a sense of certainty that citizens would not be harmed or their services would not be curtailed even as the very Aadhaar scheme is under the apex court's microscope.

The deadline to link Aadhaar with PAN was extended to March 31 in November a year ago.

A five-judge Constitution bench comprising Chief Justice Dipak Misra and Justices A K Sikri, A M Khanwilkar, D Y Chandrachud and Ashok Bhushan is now hearing a batch of petition, challenging its validity.

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A bench of five judges, headed by Chief Justice of India Dipak Mishra on Tuesday said that the government can not insist for mandatory Aadhaar till the matter is under judicial consideration.

However, it is still mandatory to link your welfare schemes with Aadhaar to get benefits under Article 7 before the deadline.

While the biometric database was launched in 2009 under the Congress-led UPA, the Narendra Modi movernment has been steadily mandating the use of Aadhaar for availing wide range of services including filing income tax, registration of mobile phone numbers as well as welfare, pension and employment schemes. The 2017 judgement on privacy was a huge win as it reiterated the fact that the right to privacy is a fundamental right. Senior advocate Arvind Datar, on behalf of Ms. Grover, said she was asked to come back with her Aadhaar number, which she did not possess, in case she wanted her passport.

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It is unclear at the moment, however, whether banks or telecom service providers can insist that customers produce evidence of having applied for an Aadhaar number.

For the unaware, March 31 was the previous deadline to link mobile connection/bank account with Aadhaar.

On March 6, the attorney general had indicated to the bench that the Centre was willing to extend the March 31 deadline in view of the likelihood of the hearing getting prolonged.

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The court also directed that its interim order "shall also control and govern the Passports (1st Amendment) Rules, 2018" which insisted on Aadhaar identification for getting passports under the "Tatkal" scheme.

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