It has been 849 days since the Indian Supreme Court decided to set up a Constitution Bench to examine if Aadhaar project violates Indian Constitution. Every day that the court delays in deciding on this matter, there are more instances of people suffering because Aadhaar has been made ‘mandatorily voluntary’. Since the matter didn’t get listed in the Supreme Court on its own, there was a mentioning by the lawyers today in morning in the court of the Chief Justice of India.
At this mentioning, the Attorney General of India, Mr. K. K. Venugopal, said in the court that the Government of India will publish a notification tomorrow extending the 31st December 2017 deadline to link Section 7 notifications (PDS, NREGA, disability assistance, MDM and over 100 others) to 31st March, 2018 EXCEPT in the case of mobile-Aadhaar linkage. The Attorney General added that in the case of mobile-Aadhaar linking the deadline will continue to be 6th February 2018 since it will require a judicial order to extend to 31st March 2018 because the Supreme Court had, in the Lokniti Foundation case, ordered Aadhaar verification of all mobiles by 6th February 2018. (Note: There is also an opinion that the mandatory Aadhaar verification of mobile numbers is a misreading of the court’s opinion in the Lokniti Foundation case.)
It is understood that this notification would extend the deadline only for those without Aadhaar and that those with Aadhaar will have still have to link to bank accounts and other services by 31st December 2017, similar to the PAN judgement earlier this year where in those with Aadhaar had to mention their Aadhaar number when filing their Income Tax returns but those without Aadhaar needn’t do so. In the present case, this will be confirmed only if and when such a notification is published by the Government of India as indicated by the Attorney General.
Mr. Shyam Divan, advocating for the petitioners in the Aadhaar case, insisted that the deadline should be extended for both those with and without Aadhaar and that the government should assure citizens that no coercive action will be taken against Aadhaar holders. To this the Attorney General replied that if this is the case then nobody will produce the Aadhaar number and was prepared to argue on this point. The Chief Justice of India gave his assurance that a Constitution Bench will decide on the matter of providing interim relief next week till such time that this matter is decided by the Supreme Court.
IMPLICATIONS OF TODAY’S DEVELOPMENTS FOR CITIZENS CONCERNED ABOUT AADHAAR
For those without Aadhaar: Be on the lookout for the notification mentioned by the Attorney General at the court. If this notification comes out, it is likely that you can wait at least till 31st March 2018 before linking.
For those with Aadhaar: Again, be on the lookout for the notification mentioned by the Attorney General at the court. If this notification doesn’t exempt those with Aadhaar from the 31st December 2017 linking deadline, then wait till the Constitution Bench hearing next week to see if interim relief is offered by the Supreme Court.
As a disclaimer we at Rethink Aadhaar urge you to personally assess risk and make an independent decision. Our updates are not legal advice and are aimed to creating public awareness.