Dead­line for Aadhaar link­ing to be ex­tended to March 31

Will ap­ply to 139 ser­vices, in­clud­ing bank ac­counts

The Hindu Business Line - - FRONT PAGE - KRISHNADAS RA­JAGOPAL

The At­tor­ney-Gen­eral of In­dia, KK Venu­gopal, on Thurs­day sub­mit­ted be­fore the Supreme Court that the gov­ern­ment will is­sue a no­ti­fi­ca­tion on Fri­day ex­tend­ing the dead­line for manda­tory Aadhaar link­ing from De­cem­ber 31 to March 31, 2018.

This ex­ten­sion will be for 139 ser­vices for which the dead­line is cur­rently De­cem­ber 31, 2017. The ex­ten­sion, would in all like­li­hood, in­clude the manda­tory link­age of Aadhaar with bank ac­counts.

Venu­gopal ap­prised the Bench, led by Chief Jus­tice of In­dia Di­pak Misra, that the ex­ten­sion, how­ever, does not in­clude link­ing of mobile phones with Aadhaar. The dead­line for this is Fe­bru­ary 6, 2018.

He said it would re­quire a judicial or­der from the Supreme Court it­self to ex­tend the dead­line to March 31. This is be­cause the gov­ern­ment is com­ply­ing with a Fe­bru­ary 6, 2017, or­der of the Supreme Court in the Lok Niti Foun­da­tion case to tighten the ver­i­fi­ca­tion process of mobile phone users through Aadhaar link­age, cit­ing na­tional se­cu­rity.

The sub­mis­sions from the Cen­tre’s top law of­fi­cer came on an ur­gent men­tion by ad­vo­cates PB Suresh and Vipin Nair, joined by se­nior ad­vo­cate Shyam Di­van, on be­half of pe­ti­tion­ers, seek­ing an early hear­ing of their pe­ti­tions chal­leng­ing the con­sti­tu­tion­al­ity of the Aadhaar scheme.

Chief Jus­tice Di­pak Misra orally as­sured them that a Con­sti­tu­tion Bench would hear them next week on the ques­tion of pro­vid­ing in­ter­locu­tory re­lief.

The Chief Jus­tice in­di­cated that it would be left to the Con­sti­tu­tion Bench to give dates for the fi­nal hear­ing of the Aadhaar pe­ti­tions. Di­van has pressed for dates in the first or sec­ond week of Jan­uary 2018, im­me­di­ately af­ter the Christ­mas hol­i­days.

Di­van sub­mit­ted that the gov­ern­ment should as­sure the court that no co­er­cive steps would be taken by the Cen­tre or its agen­cies on Aadhaar hold­ers till the apex court takes a fi­nal de­ci­sion on the va­lid­ity of the Aadhaar scheme.

“If that is the case, no­body will pro­duce it (Aadhaar). We have said that those with Aadhaar do not mind pro­duc­ing their Aadhaar," Venu­gopal sub­mit­ted.

Di­van said the gov­ern­ment’s stand is in­creas­ingly am­bigu­ous on the plight of ex­ist­ing hold­ers who do not want to link their Aadhaar. He urged the court to ad­dress the is­sue im­me­di­ately. Venu­gopal said the Cen­tre was equally ready to ar­gue the point.

So, the fo­cus of the hear­ing next week may be on the sta­tus of ex­ist­ing Aadhaar hold­ers and whether the ex­ten­sion of the dead­line would in effect be con­fined to non-Aadhaar hold­ers only.

The ex­ten­sion, how­ever, does not in­clude link­ing of mobile phones with Aadhaar, the dead­line for which is Fe­bru­ary 6, 2018

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