New Delhi: The Supreme Court on Tuesday extended the March 31 deadline for mandatory linking of Aadhaar to avail various services and welfare schemes run by the government till its constitution bench delivered its verdict on the validity of the 12-digit biometric number and its enabling law.
A five-judge Constitution bench headed by Chief Justice Dipak Misra extended the deadline after the Centre said it had already submitted that they were ready to extend the March 31 deadline for linking of the national biometric identifier with all services and welfare schemes.
“We direct that the March 31, 2018, deadline for linking of Aadhaar with various services and welfare schemes stand extended till the matter is heard and judgement is pronounced by the constitution bench,” the bench also comprising Justices A K Sikri, A M Khanwilkar, D Y Chandrachud and Ashok Bhushan said.
The extension of deadline would also apply on the mandatory linking of Aadhaar with the bank accounts and mobile phone numbers. The constitution bench is hearing a batch of petitions which have challenged the constitutional validity of Aadhaar and its enabling Act.
On March 6, Attorney General K K Venugopal had indicated to the bench that the Centre was willing to extend the March 31 deadline in the wake of prolonged hearing of the matter. On December 15 last year, the apex court had extended till March 31 the deadline for mandatory linking of Aadhaar with various services and welfare schemes.
Former Karnataka High Court judge Justice K S Puttaswamy, who is the lead petitioner in the case, had told the apex court on February 22 that several deaths had reportedly taken place due to starvation on account of glitches in the Aadhaar-based public distribution system and the court must consider granting them compensation.
Earlier, the top court had observed that the alleged defect of citizens’ biometric details under the Aadhaar scheme being collected without any law could be cured by subsequently bringing in a statute. It had said that the Centre came out with the law in 2016 to negate the objection that it was collecting data since 2009 without any authorisation, but the issue which needed consideration was what would happen if the data collected earlier had been compromised.