The Supreme Court of India on March 13, 2018 extended the deadline of March 31 for linking of Aadhaar card to various bank accounts, mobile phones and government schemes indefinitely.
The ruling was made by a five-judge constitution bench comprising Chief Justice of India Dipak Misra and Justices A K Sikri, A M Khanwilkar, D Y Chandrachud and Ashok Bhushan.
• The ruling came after the apex court heard a group of pleas seeking a stay on the Union Government's decision of mandatory linking of Aadhaar with welfare schemes, as well as essential services like banking and phone.
• In its ruling, the bench stated that the deadlines for linking personal accounts and schemes to the Unique Identification number stand extended till the court decides on its validity.
• The top court stated that Aadhar will continue to be mandatory for direct benefit transfers under social welfare schemes.
• In June 2017, The Union Government made Aadhaar mandatory for opening new accounts.
• It also announced that that all existing bank accounts will have to be linked with Aadhaar number or else the accounts will be declared invalid.
• However, petitioners approached the Supreme Court challenging the validity of Aadhaar saying that it violated the right to privacy.
• On 24 August 2017, a nine-judge Constitution bench ruled that the Right of Privacy was a Fundamental Right under the Constitution. The bench however, did not pass a judgment on whether Aadhar violated right o privacy or not.
• Instead, it suggested the formation of a separate constitutional bench to hear petitions against Union Government’s decision to make Aadhaar mandatory for availing various services and government welfare schemes.
• The Government recently informed the constitution bench headed by Chief Justice Dipak Misra that it could extend the March 31 deadline for linking Aadhaar, if required.
• The statement came after petitioners challenging the constitutional validity of the Aadhaar scheme sought an extension of the deadline to link the 12-digit unique identity number with various government schemes and services.
• The deadline to link the Aadhaar to various services and schemes was previously set for September 30, 2017, after which it was extended to December 31, 2018 and then again to March 31, 2018.
• The petitioners, for their part, said that the deadline was approaching and the case was unlikely to be decided by March 31.
The decision would come as a relief for all those people who haven’t linked their unique 12-digit number with their mobile number, bank account and other schemes.