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Mandatory Aadhaar Linking To Bank Accounts, Welfare Services May Be Extended Beyond March 31

DIVYIA ASTHANA | 1
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| March 7 , 2018 , 13:29 IST

The last date for mandatory linking of Aadhaar ID cards with bank accounts, SIM cards, PAN cards and other welfare schemes is likely to be extended further from the current March 31 deadline, as indicated by the Centre to the Supreme Court on Tuesday. The extension would grant more time to complete the extended hearings going on in the apex court.

"We have extended the deadline in the past and we will extend the deadline again but we may do it by the end of month to enable the petitioners in the case conclude the arguments," said Attorney General K.K. Venugopal.

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A 5-judge Constitution bench of the Supreme Court, comprising of Chief Justice of India Dipak Misra and Justices Justices A.K. Sikri, A.M. Khanwilkar, D.Y. Chandrachud and Ashok Bhushan, that are hearing petitions contesting the validity of the Aadhaar, agreed with the AG's contention.

"It is a very valid point raised by the Attorney General and the court would not allow repetitive arguments made by the petitioners' counsel in the matter," the Bench said.

Senior advocate Shyam Divan, leading the arguments challenging the Aadhaar Act, had earlier asked that the deadline of March 31 be extended as it was unlikely the hearings would conclude by then.

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Justice Chandrachud, pointed out that even if the Supreme Court reserved its verdict on March 20, the banks and other institutions would have only 10 days left to complete the linkages.

The statement of the Centre comes a few days after industry body Assocham urged the government to relax the deadline for linking the Aadhaar IDs with bank accounts, especially with public sector banks.

"Notwithstanding judicial scrutiny and government's well-intentioned moves, the banks, particularly those in the PSUs, may find it hard and challenging to complete the task of linking Aadhaar with the accounts of all the customers by March 31, 2018, thus necessitating relaxation of the deadline," the Assocham said in a statement.

The deadline for linking Aadhaar IDs with PAN cards was initially extended from June 30, 2017, to end August 2017 then December 31, 2017, to finally March 31, 2018.