Supreme Court extends Aadhaar linkage deadline for an indefinite period

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Supreme Court extends Aadhaar linkage deadline for an indefinite period

15 March 2018
The deadline to link your Aadhaar card with services like phone, banking, insurance has been extended indefinitely. Here what you need know more about it

After the introduction of Aadhaar, the Government of India made it mandatory to link one’s Aadhaar to services such as telecom providers and banks. Even as the public and service providers scrambled to meet the deadline (December 31, 2017), the Supreme Court issued an order extending it to March 31, 2018. But on March 14 the deadline was further extended in deference to the petitions pending with the five-judge constitution bench.

Related: Locking your Aadhaar card biometrics can prevent misuse

Here’s a synopsis of the court order and its possible effects.

 

What the order says

As reported by the Economic Times, the Supreme Court extended the Aadhaar linkage deadline of March 31 indefinitely. The order states that the extension stands until the constitution bench rules upon the several pending petitions against Aadhaar, primarily as a violation of the constitutional right to privacy. It includes financial and telecom services but excludes government-subsidised services such as scholarships, ration cards, and income tax. Attorney General K.K. Venugopal, who also revealed that the Supreme Court might consider further extension pending a decision, informed the constitution bench of the extension.

Related: New RBI mandate says customers must update KYC formalities for e-wallets

The highlights of the court decision are:

  • The deadline has been extended indefinitely until the constitution bench rules on the petitions.
  • The order will remain in force until such time another verdict is issued by the court.
  • The government cannot insist on Aadhaar.
  • Aadhaar will still be required for subsidies under Section 7 of the constitution.

The petitions pending with the constitution bench challenge the validity of the Aadhaar Act (2016) on various counts, including violation of privacy. This fact was pointed out to the Supreme Court while considering enforcement of Aadhaar linkage.

Related: Has your Aadhaar been deactivated? Here's what you have to do

Other related issues

While Aadhaar is projected as the ‘Social Security’ of India, there is a long way to go before it can succeed. In the current scenario, with electronic money transfer validated on little else than your Aadhaar as the primary input (and an OTP sent to your ‘registered SIM’ as the second factor verification), all a hacker needs is your Aadhaar number to gain complete access to your bank accounts.

Related: 5 Things to do if your financial information is stolen

According to Dr Anupam Saraph, when the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) first issued an order to link bank accounts with Aadhaar, it overlooked a few significant facts:

  • The concept of Aadhaar was in direct conflict to its own extant PMLA (Prevention of Money Laundering Act), which is part of the Basel Committee Standards for customer information.
  • Aadhaar coupled with eKYC opens the doors for millions of fraudulent bank accounts to be opened.
  • Bank accounts can be remotely created and operated using Aadhaar alone. This provides a readymade framework for money laundering.

Related: Refrain from using PVC or plastic Aadhaar card: UIDAI

In a nutshell

The recent Supreme Court order has extended the deadline for Aadhaar linkage indefinitely. The order specifically stated that Aadhaar should not be mandatory even for tatkal ticket bookings, passports, and visas. On the other hand, sources say that Aadhaar is still mandatory for government subsidies. While instructions with respect to government subsidies, pension, and taxation are unclear, the government has indicated that the deadline may be extended even in these cases. While the full impact of the extension remains to be seen, India is heaving a sigh of relief in the interim.

Related: What are the new Aadhaar features- virtual ID and limited KYC and how do they work?

What you can do

While many consider Aadhaar to be a failure, the Social Security System of the USA works fine. The difference is in the level of security and connectivity that the Americans have achieved. India has a long way to go before it can reach the same level of security. In the meantime, every Indian must vow to do his or her bit and proceed with care and determination towards a better and brighter future.

 
 

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