Aad­haar link­age dead­line put off un­til SC ver­dict

March 31 no longer last date to link phone, bank ac­count

Hindustan Times (Lucknow) - - Front Page - Bhadra Sinha let­ters@hin­dus­tan­times.com ▪

NEW DELHI: The Supreme Court ex­tended on Tues­day the March 31 dead­line to link Aad­haar with var­i­ous govern­ment ser­vices, bank ac­counts, Per­ma­nent Ac­count Num­bers for fil­ing tax re­turns and even mo­bile phone con­nec­tions in­def­i­nitely un­til af­ter it de­liv­ers a fi­nal ver­dict on pe­ti­tions ques­tion­ing the va­lid­ity of the unique iden­ti­fi­ca­tion num­ber.

Ex­ten­sion of the dead­line of­fers re­lief to con­sumers bom­barded by mes­sages from ser­vice providers in­clud­ing banks and mo­bile phone com­pa­nies ask­ing them to link their ac­counts to Aad­haar be­fore the dead­line.

A five-judge bench led by Chief Jus­tice Di­pak Misra said the ex­ten­sion will not ap­ply to govern­ment ser­vices and ben­e­fits like pen­sions and schol­ar­ships, sub­sidised food­grains un­der the Pub­lic Dis­tri­bu­tion Sys­tem, sub­sidised cooking gas and the flag­ship job guar­an­tee plan for ru­ral house­holds.

Such ben­e­fits are cov­ered by Sec­tion 7 of the Aad­haar Act, which deals with the de­liv­ery of fi­nan­cial ben­e­fits and sub­si­dies and ser­vices un­der govern­ment wel­fare pro­grammes.

Those draw­ing such ben­e­fits will be re­quired to pro­vide the bio­met­ric ID details and num­ber as­signed to them by the Unique Iden­ti­fi­ca­tion Au­thor­ity of In­dia (UIDAI). The court re­strained the au­thor­i­ties from in­sist­ing on Aad­haar for is­sue of Tatkal pass­ports, which are pro­cessed faster. The ex­emp­tion was made af­ter se­nior ad­vo­cate Arvind Datar com­plained that the govern­ment had amended pass­port rules in breach of the court di­rec­tive not to make Aad­haar manda­tory. He showed the court his col­league V rind a Grover’ s pass­port, which was can­celled be­cause she re­fused to part with her Aad­haar details.

“It is also di­rected that the same shall also con­trol and gov­ern

the Pass­ports (1st Amend­ment) Rules, 2018,” the court or­dered, say­ing its di­rec­tive shall also ap­ply to state gov­ern­ments.

In De­cem­ber last year, the top court ex­tended un­til March 31, the De­cem­ber 31, 2017 dead­line for manda­to­rily link­ing var­i­ous ser­vices with their Aad­haar num­ber, which has be­come the be­drock of govern­ment wel­fare pro­grammes, the tax ad­min­is­tra­tion net­work and on­line fi­nan­cial trans­ac­tions.

The bench is cur­rently hear­ing pe­ti­tion­ers who have ques­tioned the va­lid­ity of Aad­haar and sub­se­quent rules mak­ing the num­ber manda­tory for such ser­vices. The govern­ment will re­spond af­ter the pe­ti­tion­ers present their case. A fi­nal judge­ment is un­likely be­fore the end of this month. At­tor­ney Gen­eral KK Venu­gopal, who ap­pears for UIDAI, left it to the court to ex­tend the in­terim or­der. How­ever, he urged the bench not to dis­turb the ar­range­ment un­der sec­tion 7 of the law.

On March 7, the bench in­di­cated the pos­si­bil­ity of ex­tend­ing the dead­line. It had ex­pressed dis­plea­sure over banks, mo­bile phone com­pa­nies and fi­nan­cial in­sti­tu­tions con­tin­u­ing to co­erce peo­ple to link their Aad­haar num­ber for un­in­ter­rupted ser­vices. A de­lay in ex­tend­ing the dead­line would have im­pli­ca­tions on fi­nan­cial in­sti­tu­tions, banks and stock ex­changes.

The or­der to post­pone the link­age in­def­i­nitely brings re­lief to con­sumers bom­barded by tele­mar­ket­ting mes­sages, said Vipin Nair, ad­vo­cate for pe­ti­tioner Kalyani Sen Menon. “The or­der came from the bench be­cause they felt the un­cer­tainty is caus­ing havoc. The mes­sages should stop now. If they don’t then we will seek a spe­cific or­der.”

Venu­gopal had said the Cen­tre was not averse to ex­tend­ing the dead­line, but there was no im­me­di­ate re­quire­ment for an ex­ten­sion and ad­vised the bench to see how the case pro­gresses.

SC on March 7 stopped the Cen­tral Bureau of Sec­ondary Ed­u­ca­tion (CBSE) from mak­ing Aad­haar com­pul­sory for students writ­ing the Na­tional El­i­gi­bil­ity and En­trance Test for ad­mis­sion to med­i­cal and den­tal col­leges.

Mean­while, se­nior ad­vo­cate P Chi­dambaram con­cluded his ar­gu­ments in the case. He ap­peared for Congress leader Jairam Ramesh whose pe­ti­tion talks about the “il­le­gal­ity” com­mit­ted in pass­ing the Aad­haar law as a money bill.

Ramesh has claimed that the Aad­haar (Tar­geted De­liv­ery of Fi­nan­cial and Other Sub­si­dies, Ben­e­fits and Ser­vices) Bill, 2016 was cer­ti­fied as a money bill to avoid its scru­tiny by the Ra­jya Sabha, which does not have any say on such leg­is­la­tion.

Chi­dambaram cited sev­eral SC judge­ments to press his point that ju­di­cial in­ter­ven­tion is per­mit­ted in cases where an un­con­sti­tu­tional act is com­mit­ted by Par­lia­ment. Pass­ing the law as a money bill strikes at the root of fed­er­al­ism and to ig­nore the vi­o­la­tion of a con­sti­tu­tional man­date will be an in­ex­cus­able er­ror, he ar­gued.

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