You may still get a message or two from your phone service provider or bank asking you to link your Aadhaar with various services but now there is no deadline to do so. Not for now. On Tuesday, the Supreme Court indefinitely extended the deadline to link Aadhaar with private and non-subsidised government services like phone numbers and back accounts. The extension has been also allowed for mandatory requirement of Aadhaar for Tatkal Passport.
Earlier, the deadline to link Aadhaar with these services was March 31 and banks telecom companies were sending messages, which many deemed threatening, to consumers, telling them their phone numbers will stop working or their bank accounts will be frozen in case they don’t link Aadhaar to the services.
So, what does this mean for you? Do you now have to link the phone number with Aadhaar or the bank account with Aadhaar? For how long you can avoid doing so? What is the new deadline to link Aadhaar with phone number and bank accounts? Will you never have to link Aadhaar with the bank account? A lots of questions, and right now not all answers are available.
1. The most important thing right now to know is that if you don’t link your phone number with Aadhaar or don’t connect Aadhaar to bank account by March 31, you will not be punished in any way. You phone number will continue to work. And your bank account will not be frozen, even if it has not been linked with Aadhaar.
2. The second most important thing to know about the Supreme Court Aadhaar decision is that there is no new deadline to link Aadhaar with phone numbers or bank accounts. The court has extended the deadline indefinitely while it decides the constitutional challenge to the whole Aadhaar program. The implications of the indefinite extension of deadline is that you can rest easy. There is no new date to link Aadhaar with mobile numbers and bank accounts for now. And whenever there will be a date, if at all there will be such deadline and date, you will be told in advance and given enough time to link your services with Aadhaar.
3. One key point to note here is that the Supreme Court has extended the deadline only for services where you are not availing government subsidy. Now it is not clear if this also includes tax related deadlines or not. But it seems if there is a deadline to link ration cards to Aadhaar, that you may still have to honor.
4- While there is some clarity on the Aadhaar deadline for linking the Aadhaar number with the phones and bank accounts, in many other cases confusion continues. On the matter of Tatkal passport too there is clarity. But then Aadhaar has become sort of mandatory for almost everything that you do, from booking train tickets online to school admissions to death and birth certificates. If the earlier Supreme Court order is any indication, Aadhaar is not mandatory for anything right now, until the case in the court is going on. But on the ground, the scene is different. It is not clear if the latest order from Supreme Court will change anything in this regard. It is possible that you may still be asked for Aadhaar details if you are trying to register your marriage or your property. The official position as of today is that the services that have to be linked with Aadhaar under Section 7 of the Aadhaar Act will continue to have the March 31 as the deadline. these are the services where people get subsidies from the government.
Update: The Supreme Court interim order is now available online. It says that opening of bank account for now doesn’t require Aadhaar number.
5. The Supreme Court decision on Tuesday doesn’t mean that the government will not ask you link your Aadhaar with mobile number or bank accounts. It is possible that the linking process will continue and if you want you can go ahead and link everything to Aadhaar. But there is no deadline anymore so that pressure is gone and if you don’t link, you will not be punished in any way.
6. This kind of freeze on mandatory Aadhaar linking will continue until the Supreme Court comes out with its verdict in the Aadhaar case that a 5-judge constitutional bench is hearing. This verdict is expected in the next several months. Currently the arguments from petitioners, who have challenged Aadhaar, are going on. Then the defence, or in other words government, will put forth its argument. The verdict will come after that. If the verdict is in favour of Aadhaar program and the government, you may have to link Aadhaar with various services. If it is against Aadhaar and the government, you will not have to.
7. Just to summarise, rest easy for now. The Aadhaar March 31 deadline is gone. There is no new deadline. Ignore the messages that you are getting from your banks and telecom providers. Relax and wait for the final Supreme Court verdict in the Aadhaar case.