Deadline for using Aadhaar for schemes extended

Deadline for using Aadhaar for schemes extended

The Centre on Wednesday told the Supreme Court that it is going to extend the deadline for citizens to cite Aadhaar number for availing various welfare schemes from December 31 to March 31, 2018.

It, however, sought time till October 30 to clarify whether any coercive action would be taken against those who possess Aadhaar card but do not want to link it to their bank accounts and mobile numbers.

Attorney General K K Venugopal mentioned the matter before a three-judge bench presided over by Chief Justice Dipak Misra.

Read: Govt simplifies Aadhaar-based verification of existing SIMs

He said all Aadhaar-related matters pending adjudication by the apex court must go to a five-judge constitution bench for its "far-reaching consequences".

As he submitted that the government is going to extend the deadline for citing Aadhaar numbers for different social welfare schemes, senior advocates Shyam Divan, Anand Grover, Arvind Datar and Meenakshi Arore, representing a batch of PIL petitioners, questioned the government's intent.

Divan contended that the government was violating the apex court's order by forcing people — even school children — to give Aadhaar numbers for different purposes.

"A student cannot appear in the examination and would not be issued examination hall ticket if she does not submit Aadhaar number. What is happening to civil liberties in the country," he asked.
Venugopal, however, maintained that no interim order was passed by the apex court after the passage of the Aadhaar Act.

He also submitted that the government has taken a number of steps for data protection, including the setting up of a high-powered panel headed by former SC judge Justice B N Srikrishna, to look into the issue.

The law could be framed by February, 2018, he said. His plea got support from the bench, which observed, "people are struggling the world-over on data protection".

Divan, for his part, said, "the matter pending since 2014 is crying for final hearing".

Read also: Maharashtra loan waiver: 100 farmers linked to single Aadhaar number

The bench, also comprising Justices A M Khanwilkar and D Y Chandrachud, said the matter could be put before an appropriate bench for consideration before the first week of November.

The court, however, granted permission to Venugopal to mention the matter again on Monday. A note prepared by Venugopal stated that the Srikrishna panel has asked the working groups to suggest changes in law, including in the Aadhaar Act, 2016 and the Information Technology Act, 2000.

After the nine-judge bench's decision on right to privacy as a fundamental right, the court had in August decided to put all Aadhaar-related matters for consideration in November.

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