The Supreme Court on Tuesday extended the deadline to link Aadhaar to various things, including bank accounts and mobile numbers till the disposal of the matter.
The five-judge Bench hearing the Aadhaar cases, passed an interim order directing that the order passed on earlier occasion stands extended till the disposal of the matter. Further, this extension would also cover the issue of passports.
The extension, which was denied last week, came about quite accidentally. Senior Counsel Arvind Datar made a submission on Aadhaar being mandatory for obtaining tatkal passport. Requesting the Bench to consider extension of deadlines to link Aadhaar, Mr Datar said, "Making Aadhaar mandatory for tatkal passport is in violation of SC order."
Responding to this, Attorney General KK Venugopal said, "There are other IDs like water bill, electricity bill, which can be used. Aadhaar is only for expediting the procedure. In case of passport under tatkal scheme, Aadhaar is required for out of turn consideration to expedite the process. And we are strictly following orders of the SC."
There was some dispute regarding producing Aadhaar enrolment number in case of non-production of Aadhaar number for tatkal passport. Mr Datar then read out the order passed by the apex court on 15 December 2017.
Chief Justice Dipak Misra then clarified that the deadline had been extended covering all the fields.
AG Venugopal requested the Bench that the extension of deadlines should not affect Section 7 of the Aadhaar Act related with subsidies.
However, the Supreme Court passed an interim order extending the deadline to link Aadhaar till the matter is disposed off. This means, the 31 March 2018 deadline is not valid if there is no judgement passed by the Court till that time.
The extension of deadline, however does not apply to the benefits, subsidies and services under Section 7 of the Aadhaar Act.
The order passed by the apex court says...
"We direct that the interim order passed on 15 December 2017 shall stand extended till the matter is finally heard and the judgment is pronounced. That apart, the directions issued in the interim order shall apply as stated in paragraphs 11 to 13 in the said order. For the sake of clarity, we reproduce the said paragraphs, which read as under:-
11. In terms of (iii) above, subject to the submission of the details in regard to the filing of an application for an Aadhaar card and the furnishing of the application number to the account opening bank, we likewise extend the last
date for the completion of the process of Aadhaar linking of new bank accounts to 31 March 2018.
12. In terms of (iv) above we extend the date for the completion of the E-KYC process in respect of mobile phone subscribers until 31 March 2018.
13. Consistent with the above directions, we also direct that the extension of the last date for Aadhar linkage to 31 March 2018 shall apply, besides the schemes of the Ministries/ Departments of the Union government to all state governments in similar terms. As a consequence of the extension of the deadline to 31 March 2018, it is ordered accordingly.
It is also directed that the same shall also control and govern the Passports (1st Amendment) Rules, 2018."
Earlier during the day, Congress leader and Senior counsel P Chidambaram, appearing for his party colleague Jairam Ramesh challenged the Aadhaar Act on the ground that it was incorrectly certified as a Money Bill. He stated that the Aadhaar Act as passed by the Lok Sabha is primarily a Bill for creation of Unique Identification Authority of India (UIDAI) and entirety cannot be said to be a money bill as contended by the government.
Contending that when the Aadhaar Bill was introduced or certified, it was not a money bill, Mr Chidambaram said, "If this (Aadhaar) Bill can go through as a Money Bill, potentially any Bill can slip through in the guise of a Money Bill. It sets a very dangerous precedent. Money bill is an extremely narrow subset of financial bill. This (Aadhaar) bill goes far beyond the intended purpose of delivery of subsidies."
"There is only one Bill and if that Bill is not a money bill, the whole (Aadhaar) Act has to go. Any Bill incorrectly passed as a Money Bill strikes at the root of one of the basic features of the Constitution, the federalism. Rajya Sabha, which is bypassed for the Aadhaar Act is the council of the States," Mr Chidambaram said.
Senior Advocate KV Vishwanathan contended how Section 7 of the Aadhaar Act talks about exclusion and thus is consequently unconstitutional. He said, "How it cannot be upheld on a promise made by the Union that the provision will be reasonably administered.
The hearing will continue on Wednesday.
(Based on live tweets of public-spirited Prasanna S (@prasanna_s) and @SFLC.in)