SC may extend deadline for linking Aadhaar with mobile phone

SC may extend deadline for linking Aadhaar with mobile phone

The Supreme Court on Thursday indicated that it may extend the deadline for linking Aadhaar to mobile phones from February 6 to March 31, 2018.

A five-judge bench presided over by Chief Justice Dipak Misra said the court would pronounce its order on Friday on a batch of PILs questioning the Centre's notifications that made it mandatory for all to link their Aadhaar number with bank accounts and mobile phones and to avail benefits of other social welfare schemes.

The court put all the PILs for detailed hearing from January 10.

The bench, also comprising Justices A K Sikri, A M Khanwilkar, D Y Chandrachud and Ashok Bhushan, held a marathon hearing during the day on the plea for interim directions to restrain the government from linking Aadhaar to various schemes and bank accounts.

Attorney General K K Venugopal, along with senior advocates C A Sundaram and Rakesh Dwivedi, appearing for the Centre and other authorities, submitted that the date for linking of existing bank accounts and other schemes have been extended up to March 31.

The top law officer, however, maintained that all those who wanted to open new bank accounts would have to mandatorily submit either their Aadhaar cards or the application form for the 12-digit unique identification number.

At the same time, Venugopal submitted that the deadline for linking Aadhaar with mobile phones could be extended from February 6 to March 31, as the previous date was fixed in pursuance to the direction issued by the court.

The government's counsel also submitted that as many as 2.2 lakh fake accounts were weeded out after the decision to link them with Aadhaar.

The move is intended to unearth black money, though any kind of data sharing was injuncted in the law itself, they said.

A battery of senior advocates, including Shyam Divan, Arvind Datar, Gopal Subramanium, Anand Grover, K V Vishwanathan, Sajan Poovayya, Meenakshi Arora, K T S Tulsi and Sanjay Hegde, and advocate Prashant Bhushan appeared on behalf of the petitioners.

They contended that the government's notifications were in contravention of the apex court's various orders issued from time to time since September 23, 2013, up to October 15, 2015, for not making Aadhaar mandatory for availing benefits of any scheme, other than PDS, LPG, MGNREGA, Jan Dhan Yojana, Employees Provident Fund Scheme and National Security Assistance programme.

"The Aadhaar Act, passed subsequently, cannot hollow out the entire Constitution, fundamental rights and directive principles. The country cannot be made totalitarian state with citizens being constantly put to surveillance," Divan said.

Tulsi said in absence of data protection laws, the right to privacy would be in peril if citizens are forced to part with intimate details.

Grover contended that data collected for Aadhaar are shared with companies having CIA and FBI agents.

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