NEW DELHI: The Supreme Court on Tuesday said that the linking of Aadhaar cards with bank accounts and mobile phones will not be mandatory until the apex court delivers the final judgment.
The five-judge Constitution bench of the Supreme Court, headed by Chief Justice of India Dipak Misra, said that the government cannot insist for mandatory Aadhaar.
The top court has been hearing a bunch of petitions challenging the validity of the Unique Identification number. The order indefinitely extends the deadline of March 31 to link the 12-digit Unique Identification number.
Aadhaar will, however, be required for social schemes, the SC said.
On December 15, 2017, the apex court had extended till March 31, 2018, the deadline for mandatory linking of Aadhaar with various services and welfare schemes.
Earlier senior advocate Shyam Divan, who had led the arguments challenging Aadhaar and its enabling Act, said that the deadline of March 31 be extended as it was highly unlikely that the hearing in the case challenging the constitutional validity of the Aadhaar Act will be concluded.
"The deadline for mandatory linking of Aadhaar with various services and welfare schemes is March 31. This will have all India ramification as various institution would have to adjust themselves accordingly," Divan had said.
Justice Chandrachud said even if the court reserved its verdict on March 20, 2018, the banks and other institution would have only 10 days left, which might be difficult.
The bench then called the Attorney General for assistance in the issue.
At the fag end of the day's hearing, Venugopal appeared before the bench and made the statement about the possibility of extension of the deadline.
Senior advocate Arvind Datar, who argued against the Aadhaar scheme, said it violated the fundamental rights of citizens.
In February this year, former Karnataka High Court judge Justice KS Puttaswamy had told the apex court 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.
He had urged the bench to consider granting compensation to those who had suffered on the ground of exclusion due to Aadhaar, particularly the kin of the starvation death victims.
The top court had also observed that the alleged defect of citizens' biometric details under the Aadhaar scheme being collected without any law could be cured by subsequently bringing 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.