The government told a five-judge Constitution bench that the unique identifier( Aadhaar) must be allowed to remain mandatory for opening bank accounts.
The Centre on Thursday urges the Supreme Court to postpone the deadline for Aadhaar linking. The linkage for “all services” to Aadhaar is on an extension until March 31, 2018.
And meanwhile, the Centre said the court may consider extending the last date for linking the unique identity to mobile phone numbers also till that date. The court reserved its orders for Friday regarding the Aadhaar act.
Attorney General K K Venugopal told a five-judge Constitution bench that a judicial order was in need to extend the deadline for linking mobile phones to Aadhaar. Chief Justice of India Dipak Misra heads the elite judicial bench. Meanwhile, an earlier order of the apex court on February 6, 2017, had directed that a government scheme to verify phone numbers using Aadhaar. It was due completion in one year. The bench was hearing a clutch of petitions challenging the Constitutional validity of the Aadhaar Act and related notifications linking it to various government schemes.
Opposing any stay on the linking process, the government also told the bench comprising Justices A.K. Sikri, A.M. Khanwilkar, D.Y. Chandrachud and Ashok Bhushan that the unique identifier is a must to remain mandatory for opening bank accounts.
Appearing for one of the petitioners, senior advocate Gopal Subramaniam confirms Aadhaar’s importance. He states that notifications made by the government under Aadhaar Act had the effect of making it mandatory.
The court had said that it could be in use only for identification purposes vis-a-vis six schemes. But central and state governments have since made it virtually mandatory through a slew of circulars and notices in myriad fields, he said. The attorney general said the law had overruled all earlier court orders. “An Act is in place. It is a complete code by itself,” he claims. Senior advocate Arvind P Datar pointed out that the Act itself provided that Aadhaar was needed only if a citizen was interested in any benefit, service or subsidy chargeable under the Consolidated Fund of India. Insisting on it for the issue of even death certificate was “over-reach”, “beyond the law, ultra vires”, he argued.
Senior advocate K.T.S. Tulsi said till the government enacted a law on data protection. The court should insist that the government protected the privacy of citizens. Senior advocate Anand Gover claims that identity-based on iris and other biometrics was not reliable.