New Delhi: The Supreme Court on Tuesday extended the deadline for linking of various services with Aadhaar till it delivers its judgment on a batch of petitions challenging the constitutional validity of the biometrical identification scheme. Announcing the order, a five-judge constitution bench, headed by Chief Justice Dipak Misra, however said that this extension will not affect the linking of Aadhaar with the disbursal of benefits under social welfare schemes.
"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," the court said in its order. The court also directed that its interim order "shall also control and govern the Passports (1st Amendment) Rules, 2018" which insisted on Aadhaar identification for getting passports under the 'Tatkal' scheme. The order came as senior counsel Arvind Datar, appearing for one of the petitioners, told the court that passport issuing authorities have made submission of Aadhaar mandatory for issuance of passports.
At this point, Attorney General K K Venugopal sought to clarify that this requirement of Aadhaar was only for issuance of 'tatkal' passports. The current deadline for linking of bank accounts, mobile phone connections, and other services with Aadhaar was March 31 and this had been extended by the apex court on December 15 last year.
As Chief Justice Misra said that their interim order stands extended, the Attorney General told the court that the government was prepared to extend the deadline in the last week of March as arguments in the matter would have concluded by then. "We were prepared for extension in last week of March," he told the court in a bid to stall the extension.
The constitution bench, which also includes Justice A K Sikri, Justice A M Khanwilkar, Justice D Y Chandrachud and Justice Ashok Bhushan, had on March 7 ruled that the Central Board of Secondary Education (CBSE) will not insist on Aadhaar-only identification for NEET and other all-India examinations.
Earlier in the course of the arguments, senior counsel P Chidambaram told the court that it could look into the decision of the Lok Sabha Speaker in allowing Aadhaar Bill to be tabled as a Money Bill.