The Centre on Thursday informed the Supreme Court that it was willing to extend till 31 March next year the deadline fixed for mandatory linking of Aadhaar for availing of various services and welfare schemes.
The Supreme Court will be setting up a five-judge Constitution Bench next week to hear several pleas seeking an interim stay on the Centre’s decision of mandatory linking of Aadhaar.
A bench headed by Chief Justice Dipak Misra was informed by Attorney General K K Venugopal that the Centre was willing to extend the deadline of 31 December to 31 March next year for linking of Aadhaar with various services and schemes.
The Attorney General, however, made it clear that February 6 next year would remain the deadline for linking Aadhaar for availing of uninterrupted mobile services as it had been mandated by the apex court.
Senior advocate Shyam Divan, appearing for those who are opposed to the Aadhaar scheme told the bench, also comprising Justices A M Khanwilkar and D Y Chandrachud, that the Centre should give an undertaking that no coercive steps would be taken against those who fail to link their Aadhaar with various services.
The Supreme Court is hearing petitions challenging the government’s decision on Aadhaar and has said it may consider setting up a constitution bench to hear pleas challenging the Centre’s move to make Aadhaar card mandatory for availing various services and benefits of welfare schemes.
Last month, the government had told the court, which is hearing petitions against making Aadhaar linking to bank accounts, mobile phone numbers and others mandatory, that it is willing to extend the deadline to 31 March, 2018.
This year, the government made the quoting of Aadhaar mandatory for filing income tax returns (ITRs) as well as obtaining a new PAN.
“The duplicate PAN cards are the ones which are creating a major danger to the economy. They are the ones who are using this duplicate PAN for opening bank accounts and then they are transacting and they are not filing returns. So we need to worry about them,” the official said.
Section 139 AA (2) of the Income Tax Act says that every person having PAN as on July 1, 2017 and eligible to obtain Aadhaar, must intimate his Aadhaar number to the tax authorities. The government had in August extended by four months the deadline for linking PAN with Aadhaar till 31 December, pending the Supreme Court verdict.