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SC extends Aadhaar linkage deadline indefinitely

 NEW DELHI, March 13 - The Supreme Court today extended indefinitely its March 31 deadline for linking bank accounts and mobile phone numbers with Aadhaar.

It, however, said the government may continue to seek the 12-digit national biometric identifier number of beneficiaries for transfer of benefits of schemes funded from the consolidated fund of India.

“We direct that the interim order passed on December 15, 2017 shall stand extended till the matter is finally heard and the judgment is pronounced,” a five-judge Constitution bench headed by Chief Justice Dipak Misra said, giving relief to lakhs of people who have not yet linked their bank accounts and mobile phones with Aadhaar.

The bench, also comprising Justices A K Sikri, A M Khanwilkar, D Y Chandrachud and Ashok Bhushan, said Aadhaar will not be mandatory for obtaining Tatkal passports too.

During the hearing, Attorney General K K Venugopal requested the court that the extension of the deadline should not disturb the benefits, subsidies and services covered under Section 7 of the Aadhaar (Targeted Delivery of Financial and other Subsidies, Benefits and Services) Act, 2016.

The provision says that Centre or state governments may seek Aadhaar for establishing the identity of beneficiaries of their schemes.

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.

The provision also says those who have neither the Aadhaar card nor its enrolment number, can still avail the benefits, and that they would be offered alternative and viable means of identification for delivery of the subsidy, benefit or service.

Senior Congress leader and advocate P Chidambaram, appearing for his party colleague Jairam Ramesh, one of the petitioners in the matter, told the bench that the Aadhaar Bill was wrongly termed as a Money Bill by Lok Sabha Speaker to bypass the Rajya Sabha.

He referred to various schemes like the MGNREGA and the Food Security Act the money for which also came from the consolidated fund of India, but the bills for their passage were not categorised as Money Bill. – PTI

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