Days after the Indian government indicated to the Supreme Court that in light of the time needed for the Aadhaar case that it may extend the March 31 deadline, SC has finally extended the deadline to link Aadhaar card to mobile phones, bank accounts, tatkal passports, etc. till it reaches the decision on petitions challenging the constitutional validity of the Aadhaar Act.
In its decision, the five-judge constitution bench of SC said, “Having heard the learned counsel for the parties, we accept the submission made by the learned Attorney General. Subject to that, we direct that the interim order passed on 15.12.2017 shall stand extended till the matter is finally heard and the judgment is pronounced.”
In February, the Supreme Court rejected a petition seeking an extension of deadline beyond March 31, 2018, for linking the Aadhaar card with a host of services. At the time, the bench while rejecting the petition filed by Shyam Divan, indicated that all these concerns would be taken care of when it concludes the ongoing hearing on Aadhaar validity and passes its final verdict.
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.”
This includes subsidies or direct benefit transfer schemes of the Ministries or Departments of the Union Government to all state governments, the deadline for which remains March 31.
In December 2017, the Supreme Court had extended the deadline for mandatory linking of the Aadhar card to various services and welfare schemes till March 31, 2018.
After that in January 2018, the constitutional bench began the final hearing on a batch of petitions which challenged the Aadhaar Act on the grounds that it violates an individual’s fundamental right to privacy. This had been challenged by over 1.1 Bn people who have enrolled on a petition and opposed against making Aadhaar mandatory for availing social security benefits and other services.
With the final verdict seemingly far off while the deadline of March 31 loomed closer, the decision by the Supreme Court is being hailed as a victory by many.