The Supreme Court on Tuesday extended the March 31 deadline for linking Aadhaar with bank accounts and mobile phones till its Constitution bench delivers the judgement on the validity of the 12-digit unique identification number.
The top court also ordered that the Aadhaar card would not be insisted upon for obtaining passports under the 'tatkal' scheme.
A five-judge Constitution bench presided over by Chief Justice Dipak Misra extended the deadline of March 31 fixed by the top court in its order of December 15 last year for linking of Aadhaar with bank accounts, mobile phones and other schemes of the central and state governments.
"We direct that the interim order passed on 15.12.2017 shall stand extended till the matter is finally heard and the judgement is pronounced," the bench, also comprising Justices A K Sikri, A M Khanwilkar, D Y Chandrachud and Ashok Bhushan, ordered.
Senior advocates Arvind Datar and Shyam Divan, representing a group of challengers to Aadhaar's validity, contended that the Passports (1st Amendment) Rules, 2018 has made Aadhaar mandatory for passport under 'tatkal' scheme.
So, the interim order should be extended, and it should also include the issue of grant of passports, they pleaded.
Attorney General K K Venugopal, appearing for the Centre, submitted that while other identity proofs could be submitted for obtaining passports, Aadhaar was introduced for speedily obtaining it under the 'tatkal' scheme.
He agreed that the court may extend the interim order for Aadhaar linkage. "However, the benefits, subsidies and services covered under Section 7 of The Aadhaar (Targeted Delivery of Financial and other Subsidies, Benefits and Services) Act, 2016 should remain undisturbed," he submitted.
"We accept it," the bench said. The court's order would mean that those receiving subsidies and direct benefit transfer would mandatorily have to furnish their Aadhaar numbers.
The court passed its order at the end of the hearing with senior advocate P Chidambaram, concluding his arguments that the Aadhaar Act could not have been passed as a Money Bill. Senior advocate K V Vishwanathan commenced his arguments, which would continue on Wednesday.