Supreme Court extends all Aadhaar linking deadlines to March 31, 2018

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The Supreme Court today agreed to the Centre's submissions for extending the deadline of linking Aadhaar with all services and welfare measures till March 31 next year. A five-judge Constitution Bench headed by Chief Justice Dipak Misra, in an interim order, also modified its earlier order with regard to Aadhaar linking of mobile services and said the deadline of February 6 next year for this goal also stood extended till March 31.

Though there is no news yet about the extension of the deadline for linking mobile SIM cards with Aadhaar, the date for which has been fixed for February 6, Venugopal has said that this date may be extended too.

The SC reportedly directed that new bank accounts can be opened without Aadhaar but applicant needs to submit proof that he has applied for the card. This means those availing welfare schemes have time till March 31 to link their accounts with the government's biometric capture.

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Arguing for the petitioners, senior advocate Shyam Divan said the government's stand was increasingly ambiguous on the plight of existing Aadhaar holders who didn't want to link their Aadhaar. In the meanwhile, the application number of Aadhaar can be submitted to the bank. The Government on Thursday instructed that the Supreme Court it had prolonged the deadline for all schemes March 31, but for mobiles Phone since it had been linking to another circumstance.

A Constitution bench of five judges-CJI Misra, justices D.Y. Chandrachud, A.K. Sikri, A.M. Khanwilkar and Ashok Bhushan-was constituted on 13 December after repeated attempts by the petitioners for an early hearing on the issue of mandatory Aadhaar linking. The bench said it would pass appropriate orders on Friday.

He added that the government should have sought a variation of orders limiting the mandatory use of Aadhaar.

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Even a nine-judge bench of the Supreme Court, had in August ruled that privacy is a fundamental right, subject to limitations that are reasonable. It had earlier tagged 22 cases to be heard by a smaller bench.

Grover contended that data collected for Aadhaar are shared with companies having Central Intelligence Agency and Federal Bureau of Investigation agents.

Two new pleas challenging Aadhaar-one by the West Bengal government on the mandatory linking of Aadhaar to various schemes and another challenging its mandatory linking with mobile numbers-have also been brought to court.

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The court will now begin hearing arguments on the validity of Aadhaar on January 10.

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