Understanding the SC interim order extending Aadhaar deadlines

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A five-judge Constitution Bench of Supreme Court, on Tuesday, 13th March 2018 passed an interim order (available here) in the matter of K.S. Puttaswamy v. Union of India [W.P.(C) No. 494/2012] and 28 other petitions tagged along with it, extending the deadlines for linking Aadhaar with various schemes and services. The Apex Court began its final hearing in this matter, which challenges the overall validity of the Aadhaar scheme on various grounds, on 17th January, 2018.

The Bench passing the order comprised Chief Justice of India Dipak Misra, and Justices A.K. Sikri, A.M. Khanwilkar, D.Y. Chandrachud and Ashok Bhushan. The same Bench had previously issued an interim order on 15th December, 2017, through which it had extended Aadhaar linking deadlines to 31st March, 2018 (read our blog-post on this order here). Through the latest interim order, the Supreme Court has extended the operation of paragraphs 11, 12 and 13 of its December 2017 interim order till such time as K.S. Puttaswamy is finally heard and the judgment pronounced.

Confusing as this sounds, what it essentially means is that deadlines for Aadhaar linkages in the following cases have been extended until final disposal of the matter:

  1. Linking Aadhaar to existing bank accounts

  2. Linking Aadhaar to existing mobile phone numbers

  3. Linking Aadhaar to all Central/State Government schemes and services, except those where linkage was mandated under the authority of Section 7 of the Aadhaar Act. [Well over 100 notifications have been issued by the Central and State Governments under Section 7, linking Aadhaar to various schemes and services like PDS, LPG, MNREGA. The deadline for Aadhaar linkage in these cases remains 31st March, 2018.]

As per the latest interim order, the extended deadlines will also apply to the Passports (1st Amendment) Rules, 2018 for out of turn issue of passport under tatkal scheme as well as normal scheme.

Here are a few more salient points to be kept in mind about Aadhaar linking, based on earlier directions from the SC as well as various regulatory notifications:

  • When opening new bank accounts, proof of having applied for an Aadhaar card together with the application number will need to be provided. However, the actual process of Aadhaar linking can be completed per the extended deadline. This was said in the SC’s December 2017 interim order in K.S. Puttaswamy.

  • When obtaining new SIM cards, telcos are allowed to refuse new connections if applicants do not provide Aadhaar numbers. A Department of Telecommunications circular issued on 20.12.17 in pursuance to the December 2017 order of K.S. Puttaswamy case, extended the deadline only for re-verifying existing connections, and not for obtaining new connections.

  • The SC’s December 2017 interim order also said that Section 139AA of the Income Tax Act will continue to be governed by the SC’s judgment in Binoy Viswam v. Union of India [(2017) 7 SCC 59], which means:

    • Aadhaar number (or application number, for non-Aadhaar holders) must be quoted when applying for a new PAN card and when filing income tax returns.

    • Existing Aadhaar holders must link Aadhaar to PAN – deadline being extended till the final disposal of this matter. In case of failure to do so, PAN will be considered invalid with prospective effect.

    • Non-Aadhaar holders need not link Aadhaar to PAN.