Specify deadline for Aadhaar linkage, SC tells banks & mobile operators

Deadline for Bank account Aadhaar linking extended to March 31

An advertisement of Aadhaar featuring elderly people

While sending message alerts to customers about linking bank accounts with Aadhar, banks should also indicate the deadline for the same, the Supreme Court issued the directive on Friday to the government to convey it to banks.

Hearing a petition challenging the constitutional validity of the Aadhaar Act amidst allegations that it infringes upon the Right to Privacy, the apex court said all Aadhaar-related pleas would be taken up for final hearing by SC's constitution bench in the last week of November.

A bench comprising Justices A K Sikri and Ashok Bhushan, however, said that banks and mobile service providers must mention the deadlines - December 31 and February 6 - in SMSess sent to customers on linking their accounts to the Aadhaar numbers. Currently, the last date to link Aadhaar with bank accounts is December 31 this year while for mobile numbers, it is February 6, 2018.

The bench, particularly Justice Sikri, agreed with the petitioners that these messages were being sent out, and expressed unhappiness over getting them, when attorney general KK Venugopal tried dismissing concerns on the matter.

AG said this as senior counsel Shyam Divan appearing for petitioners challenging the validity of Aadhaar law said that Aadhaar was being used by certain elements to intrude into the bank accounts of people and withdraw money.

"Since hearing in the case would start in the end of November and (the bank deadline is) December 31, 2017. there is no need for any interim order".

Datar submitted said that the government can not dictate terms on linking bank accounts with Aadhaar card under the garb of the Rules under the PMLA.

But the court rebuked banks and mobile phone operators saying they were creating panic with their messages warning customers about deactivating their accounts if they don't link them to Aadhaar.

In an affidavit filed before the apex court, the Centre also said production of Aadhaar was mandatory for opening new bank accounts.

However to open new accounts, Aadhaar would be mandatory with immediate effect, the Centre also stated.

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