Aadhaar: No stay from Supreme Court on mandatory linking

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On Thursday, the UIDAI (Unique Identification Authority of India), clarified that notifications that mandated Aadhaar-linking with welfare programmes, PAN, bank accounts and mobile numbers stand valid.

The government is willing to give an extension on the deadlines up to 31 March 2018.

The press release stated that there is no stay ordered by the Supreme Court as on 7 December 2017.  The deadlines are soon approaching and consumers will have to adhere to them. However, attorney general K.K. Venugopal, appearing for the centre, informed the Supreme Court that the government is willing to give an extension on the deadlines up to 31 March 2018. The deadline will remain the same for SIM cards.

For now, consumers have to adhere to the deadline of 31 December 2018.

The Supreme Court has proposed the formation a 5-judge constitution bench by next week. The bench will hear pleas for an interim stay on the compulsory Aadhaar-linking directive in order to avail benefits of various welfare schemes and services in the country.

A few months ago, a nine-judge bench of the Supreme Court heard the case which questioned the right to privacy linked to Aadhaar. The unanimous judgment pronounced that under Article 21 of the Constitution, privacy is a fundamental right of every citizen. This judgment rocks the core of Aadhaar as one of the challenges faced while using biometric information is that it encroaches upon this fundamental right of every individual.

At present, the court is hearing petitions that challenge mandatory Aadhaar-linking to avail various social and welfare benefits that include direct benefit transfer, maternity benefit programmes, Pradhan Mantri Ujjwala Yojana, National Eligibility Test-Junior Research Fellowship, widow pension schemes, PG scholarship for professional courses for ST/SC candidates and so on. Transferring the provident fund corpus directly to a savings account, opening bank accounts, and filing of income-tax returns also require Aadhaar-linking.

If the deadline is extended, citizens can continue to use these welfare schemes and services, bank accounts, PAN and so on up till 31 March 2018.

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