Supreme Court Indefinitely Extends March 31 Mandatory Aadhaar Linkage Deadline

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The Supreme Court on Tuesday extended the deadline for linking of various services with Aadhaar till it delivers its judgment on a batch of petitions challenging the constitutional validity of the biometrical identification scheme. The central government had declared March 31 as the deadline for linking of Aadhaar.

Senior Advocate Arvind Datar then informed the Bench that Aadhaar is being made mandatory for linking with passports, which is a clear violation of the Supreme Court's directives.

A bench of five judges, headed by Chief Justice of India Dipak Mishra on Tuesday said that the government can not insist for mandatory Aadhaar till the matter is under judicial consideration.

The apex court also clarified that 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".

Aadhaar, the world's biggest biometric database, was introduced by the Manmohan Singh government in 2009 to streamline welfare payments and reduce pilferage by the unscrupulous. The deadline that was earlier set to 31 March has been put on hold.

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Justice Chandrachud pointed out the fact that a nine-judge Constitution Bench on August 24, 2017, recognised and upheld privacy as a fundamental right and intertwined it with basic human dignity and right to life.

No need to connect Aadhaar with mobile phones, passport, and bank accounts till the final verdict in the Aadhaar case is pronounced.

Hearing the petitions, the bench on March 7 had held that Aadhaar was not mandatory for registering or appearing for NEET or any other national examinations and documents like Voter ID, Passport, Driving License, Bank Account book can be used for the objective.

Aadhaar will be necessary only for social schemes, the top court, which is hearing a bunch of petitions that have challenged the validity of the 12-digit number, reportedly said.

It also says people, who have not secured Aadhaar number, can avail benefits of government schemes by establishing the fact that they have applied for the biometric identifier. "A banker can not be expected to seek compliance from customers within seven days", Justice Chandrachud addressed Attorney-General K.K. Venugopal during a hearing on March 7.