Willing to extend deadline for linking of Aadhaar with services to March 31, Centre tells SC

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The Centre told the Supreme Court that it was willing to extend the deadline for mandatory linking of Aadhaar to various services till March 31, 2018.

The Central government on Monday told the Supreme Court that it was willing to extend the deadline for mandatory linking of Aadhaar with various schemes to March 31, 2018.

Currently, the deadline to link various government schemes and banking services to Aadhaar is December 31.

A bench headed by the Chief Justice Dipak Misra also indicated that it may form a Constitution Bench next week to consider stay on mandatory linking. The bench, also comprising Justices A M Khanwilkar and D Y Chandrachud, said only the Constitution bench will pass an interim order in the matter.

The petitioners challenging the Aadhaar scheme have been pressing for an interim stay order on the government’s decision to make Aadhaar mandatory for welfare schemes.

Representing the Centre, Attorney General KK Venugopal requested the top court to list the matter in February next year as Justice Srikrishna commission has issued white paper on data protection and there is a likely to be suggestions from it, which may take some time.

Senior Advocate Shyam Diwan, appearing for petitioner, told the bench that he had no objection for listing of matter in February but the court should hear his application seeking interim order.

The court said that it would hear the pleas challenging Aadhaar linking after the Constitution Bench concludes hearing the Delhi-Centre case. The apex court is hearing a batch of pleas filed by the Delhi government against the Delhi High Court verdict which had held that Delhi is not a state and the Lieutenant Governor (LG) is its administrative head.

Last month, the Centre had told the apex court that it had extended the deadline extended till March 31 next year for those who do not have the 12-digit biometric identification number.

On October 30, a bench headed by the CJI had said that a Constitution Bench would be constituted and Aadhaar-related matters would come up for hearing before it.

The apex court had on November 13 refused to entertain a plea challenging the linking of mobile numbers with Aadhaar, saying several similar petitions were already pending before it.

The top court had on February 6 asked the Centre to put in place within a year an effective mechanism to scrutinise details of identity of over 100 crore existing and future mobile telephone consumers.

On November 3, the court had made it clear that banks and telecom service providers will have to indicate the last date of linking bank accounts and mobile numbers with Aadhaar in their communications with customers.

Currently, the last date to link Aadhaar with bank accounts is December 31 this year while for mobile numbers, it is February 6, 2018.

(With PTI inputs)