Centre hints that March 31 deadline for Aadhaar mandatory linking may be extended

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The Central government on Tuesday said to the Supreme Court that the final date to link the Aadhaar number to bank accounts, mobile phones and government schemes may be extended beyond March 31, 2018. The government’s recommendation came after petitioners challenging the constitutional validity of Aadhaar scheme sought such an extension.

The hearing of the case might not reach the conclusion by the end of this month, claimed their lawyer Shyam Divan. “The deadline for mandatory linking of Aadhaar with various services and welfare schemes is March 31. This will have all India ramification as various institutions would have to adjust themselves accordingly,” said Divan. In reaction to the petitioner’s arguments, Attorney-General KK Venugopal told the top court that the government had extended the deadline and could do it again. Venugopal said to the constitution bench headed by Chief Justice Dipak Misra that “We have extended the deadline in the past too. We can do it again. Let’s see how the hearing proceeds. If required, we can do it again”.

The bench agreed to Venugopal’s observation, which also involves Justices AK Sikri, AM Khanwilkar, DY Chandrachud and Ashok Bhushan. “It is a very valid point raised by the Attorney General and the court would not allow repetitive arguments made by the petitioners’ counsel in the matter,” the bench was quoted as saying. On December 15, in past, the Supreme Court had extended the Aadhaar linking deadline for bank accounts, mobile phones and various government schemes to March 31, 2018. At the same time, the Central government is also planning to link driving licenses with Aadhaar number.

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