Specify deadline for Aadhaar linkage, SC tells banks & mobile operators
The Supreme Court has directed banks and mobile service providers to specify the last date for linking their bank accounts and mobile number with Aadhaar in their messages to consumers to avoid creating panic.
Multiple petitions have been filed challenging the legality of the government order mandating linking mobile numbers and bank accounts with Aadhaar.
A bench of Justices A K Sikri and Ashok Bhushan, while refusing to pass any interim order, tagged all the petitions before another Constitution bench which is slated to begin hearing from November last week petitions on whether Aadhaar violated the right to privacy.
The petitioners pleaded for an interim order including preventing mobile operators from asking for Aadhaar linking till the pendency of the petitions. The court refused to oblige but directed that banks and mobile operators must mention indicate the last date of linking bank accounts and mobile numbers with Aadhaar in messages to their customers.
The last date for linking bank accounts with Aadhaar is 31 December 2017, and for linking mobile numbers with Aadhaar is February 6, 2018.
The bench made the observation after the counsel for the petitioners contended that the messages without the specific deadlines were creating panic among customers that their mobile number or the bank account will be immediately invalidated.
On October 30, a bench headed by Chief Justice Dipak Misra had said that a Constitution bench would be constituted and Aadhaar-related matters would come up for hearing before it in November last.
Earlier on 25 October the Centre had informed the apex court that the deadline for mandatory linking of Aadhaar to receive benefits of government schemes has been extended till March 31, 2018 for those who don’t possess the unique biometric identification number but were willing to enroll for it.
The petitions challenge the linking of bank accounts and mobile numbers with Aadhaar on multiple grounds including violation of the right to privacy, and articles 14, 19 and 21 of the Constitution.
One of the petitions contended that the Department of Telecom (DoT) “malafidely” interpreted an apex court order in the “Lokniti Foundation Case” and issued a circular mandating Aadhaar as the only means of authentication for proof of identity (PoI) and proof of address (PoA) of mobile subscribers.