Aadhaar-link deadline for PAN cards extended till 31 March

The Union government on Thursday informed the Supreme Court that it was willing to extend till 31 March next year the deadline for mandatory linking of Aadhaar for availing various services and welfare schemes.

While the deadline for linking bank accounts and PAN cards with Aadhaar has been extended, the last date for linking mobile numbers with Aadhaar remains 6 February 2018.

The government earlier had announced 31 December 2017 as the deadline for all persons to link their 12-digit Aadhaar number with bank accounts, PAN cards, and various other services and welfare schemes for the poor.

Shyam Divan, a senior advocate  representing those who are opposed to the Aadhaar linking, told the bench that the centre should give an undertaking that no coercive steps would be taken against those who fail to link their Aadhaar card.

The Supreme Court will set up a five-judge Constitution Bench next week to hear several pleas seeking an interim stay on the Centre's decision of mandatory linking of Aadhaar.

A bench headed by Chief Justice Dipak Misra and also comprising Justices A M Khanwilkar and D Y Chandrachud was informed by Attorney General K K Venugopal that the Centre was willing to extend the deadline to 31 March next year for linking of Aadhaar with various services and schemes.

The attorney general, however, made clear that 6 February would remain the deadline for linking Aadhaar to mobile services as it had been mandated by the apex court.

The apex court on 30 October had said that a Constitution Bench would commence hearing on the clutch of petitions against the Aadhaar scheme from the last week of November.

Recently, a nine-judge constitution bench of the apex court had held that Right to Privacy was a fundamental right under the Constitution. Several petitioners challenging the validity of Aadhaar had claimed it violated privacy rights.

The Centre had on 25 October told the top court that the deadline for mandatory linking of Aadhaar to receive benefits of government schemes has been extended till 31 March 2018 for the benefit of those who do not yet have the unique biometric identification number.

Some petitioners in the top court have termed the linking of the Unique Identification Authority of India (UIDAI) number with bank accounts and mobile numbers as "illegal and unconstitutional".