The Supreme Court today (December 15) passed an interim order which puts the record straight. The deadline to link your Aadhaar with your bank account and mobile phone is now March 31.
This is not the final word from the top court, though. The five-judge Constitution bench is yet to decide on the legality of the entire Aadhaar scheme. In a PIL, the constitutional validity of the Aadhaar Act has been challenged on grounds of privacy. Petitioners argue that the scheme unduly infringes upon the fundamental right to privacy.
The privacy argument and concerns have been more in focus, especially after a nine-judge bench gave a thumping judgment upholding right to privacy as a fundamental right protected under Article 21 - right to life and liberty.
The government has also conceded that there is a need for a separate data protection law which may mandate changes in the Aadhaar Act itself. There is a draft law which is open for public consultation. The wide ambit of the Aadhaar scheme may be curtailed either by the final judgment of Supreme Court or at the instance of the government itself.
This may also have a direct implication on not only how government deals with your data, but to what extent can it be mandatory to link Aadhaar with a plethora of schemes.
It would be nightmare for the government if the entire Aadhaar scheme is struck down by the Supreme Court - which is one of the prayers of the petitioners before the apex court.
An important bit of clarification: Linking your Aadhaar to PAN is mandatory due a separate order passed by the Supreme Court. The deadline can be extended as per government notification. The Supreme Court, in its earlier order, had said that there cannot be any criminal prosecution for not linking PAN with Aadhaar.
The five-judge constitution bench will begin hearing the Aadhaar case (about the legality of entire scheme) in January.