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The Supreme Court’s  Constitution Bench headed by Chief Justice Dipak Misra and comprising Justices AK Sikri, AM Khanwilkar, DY Chandrachud and Ashok Bhushan on Friday (Dec 15) extended all deadlines for Aadhaar linking to March 31, 2018.

This is an interim order. Regular hearings on the question of mandatory Aadhaar linking for various services and the issue of right to privacy related privacy issues would continue from January 17.

While this interim order is not a stamp of approval of the top court on the linkages, the fact that a “deadline” has been mentioned does lend some credence to the issue of the all-pervading Aadhaar usage that is being mooted by the government.

Regarding bank accounts, the top court’s directive was that this new last date (March 31) will be applicable for E KYC with new bank accounts. New bank accounts can be opened without Aadhaar, but the applicant needs to supply proof that he/she has applied for Aadhaar.

The bench also recognizes section 139AA of the Income Tax Act (See Box). This provision is only for those people who don’t have Aadhaar number. The section says that these people can mention their application number which is related to income tax in their return.

While there is no clarity on the contentious issue of linking Aadhaar with mobile numbers, the deadline of February 6, 2018 for linking Aadhaar with mobile services also stands extended up to March 31.

The bench also made it clear that it is not pronouncing the judgment as there are several matters listed for the court’s decision.

The relevant section

139AA. (1) Every person who is eligible to obtain Aadhaar number shall, on or after the 1st day of July, 2017, quote Aadhaar number—

(i) in the application form for allotment of permanent account number;

(ii) in the return of income:

Provided that where the person does not possess the Aadhaar Number, the Enrolment ID of Aadhaar application form issued to him at the time of enrolment shall be quoted in the application for permanent account number or, as the case may be, in the return of income furnished by him.

(2) Every person who has been allotted permanent account number as on the 1st day of July, 2017, and who is eligible to obtain Aadhaar number, shall intimate his Aadhaar number to such authority in such form and manner as may be prescribed, on or before a date to be notified by the Central Government in the Official Gazette:

Provided that in case of failure to intimate the Aadhaar number, the permanent account number allotted to the person shall be deemed to be invalid and the other provisions of this Act shall apply, as if the person had not applied for allotment of permanent account number.

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