SC directs Centre to put Aadhaar linkage on hold till it delivers final judgment

Team SoOLEGAL 14 Mar 2018 12:23pm

SC directs Centre to put Aadhaar linkage on hold till it delivers final judgment

New Delhi: A five-judge constitution bench of the  Supreme Court comprising Chief Justice Dipak Misra and Justices A K Sikri, A M Khanwilkar, D Y Chandrachud and Ashok Bhushan  on Tuesday ordered the Centre to indefinitely extend the March 31 deadline for linking Aadhaar to bank accounts and mobile phones.It said Aadhar would be required only for disbursing subsidies and the Centre and states cannot insist on Aadhaar for any service, including issuance of passports. The status quo will be maintained till the final judgment is delivered in the matter.

The order was given while the SC  bench was hearing multitude of  petitions challenging the constitutional validity of Aadhaar.The court said “We direct that the interim order passed on December 15 shall stand extended till the matter is finally heard and the judgment (of the court) is pronounced ”.

The Supreme Court also clarified that the indefinite extension of Aadhaar linkage deadline “shall apply, besides the schemes of the ministries/departments of the Union government, to all state governments in similar terms”.

The senior advocate Arvind Datar also drew bench's attention to Centre’s refusal to issue a passport under Tatkal scheme to lawyer-activist Vrinda Grover,  without her producing Aadhaar.He told the bench that insisting on Aadhaar even before March 31 was a  blatant violation of the SC’s interim order of December 15. Datar and senior advocate Shyam Divan said despite the SC’s clear interim order , the Centre appeared hell bent on making Aadhaar mandatory for everything. The Attorney general K K Venugopal representing the Centre in the case did try  to oppose Datar by stating that  Aadhaar linkage has been taken by over 1.2 billion people .As regards  Tatkal , he argued, is different method where Police verification is only done after issue of passport which is contrary to normal procedure.

In the last  hearing, the SC had told the centre to announce the extension of March 31 deadline well in advance so as to avoid confusion in the financial system.

When AG felt that his arguments were not cutting much ice with the bench ,he agreed to court's suggestion for extension of the deadline but insisted that Section 7 of Aadhaar Act, 2016, must not be diluted and should remain mandatory for anyone who is beneficiary of government subsidies.

Section 7 of Aadhaar (Targeted Delivery of Financial and Other Subsidies, Benefits and Services) Act, 2016, states that any government “for the purpose of establishing identity of an individual as a condition for receipt of a subsidy, benefit or service for which the expenditure is incurred from, or the receipt there-from forms part of, the Consolidated Fund of India, require that such individual undergo authentication, or furnish proof of possession of Aadhaar number or in the case of an individual to whom no Aadhaar number has been assigned, such individual makes an application for enrolment: provided that if an Aadhaar number is not assigned to an individual, the individual shall be offered alternate and viable means of identification for delivery of the subsidy, benefit or service”.

Tagged: Aadhar linkage   SC   Centre  
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