Indian court extends March 31 deadline for linking of biometric IDs

SC indefinitely extends Aadhaar linking deadline

On Tuesday, the Supreme Court said in a ruling that the mandatory linking of bank accounts and mobile phones will stand extended "indefinitely" till judgement on the petitions pending before it is pronounced.

On December 15, 2017, the Bench extended the Aadhaar linking deadline from December 31, 2017 to March 31, 2018.

The apex court is now in the process of hearing a clutch of petitions that challenge the validity of the Aadhaar scheme.

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The Apex Court had earlier extended the deadline for mandatory linkage of Aadhaar number with all services and schemes including bank accounts and mobile numbers, to March 31, 2018 from the earlier stipulated December 31.

The extension will be applicable for all schemes and services except in cases where subsidy is to be claimed from the schemes covered by Section 7 of Aadhaar (Targeted Delivery of Financial and other Subsidies, Benefits and Services) Act, 2016.

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. Furthermore, the government has also asked all citizens to link their Aadhaar IDs to their bank accounts, mobile numbers, insurance policies, PAN (Permanent Account Number) and other services.

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Since 2014, the government of Prime Minister Narendra Modi has been trying to mandate the use of Aadhaar for everything from filing income tax to the registration of mobile phone numbers and booking railway tickets, and for casting your vote.

On 7 March, the Supreme Court directed the CBSE not to make Aadhaar number mandatory for enrolment of students appearing in NEET 2018 and other all India exams.

It also says people, who have not secured Aadhaar number, can avail benefits of government schemes by establishing the fact that they have applied for the biometric identifier.

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Earlier, senior advocate Shyam Divan, who led the arguments challenging Aadhaar and its enabling Act, had asked that the deadline of March 31 be extended as it was highly unlikely that the hearing in the case would conclude. "A banker can not be expected to seek compliance from customers within seven days", Justice Chandrachud addressed Attorney-General K.K. Venugopal during a hearing on March 7.

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