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Deadline for mandatorily linking Aadhaar for welfare to be extended to 31 December

Update: From Rahul Narayan, an AoR in the case, on the proceedings “Shyam Divan mentioned the Aadhaar matter and both parties were present, including the Attorney General. Mr Divan asked the court to constitute the bench to hear the main matter. He pointed out Justice Nariman’s judgment in which he says that the matter should go back to the original three. The Attorney General argued that it should go before a bench of five judges, because there’s a provision in the constitution which says that issues of constitutional importance should be decided by a constitution bench of five judges. The Chief Justice said that the matter will be listed in the first week of November. It’s not clear whether it will be three judges or five judges. We’ll have to wait and find out.

Many of the deadlines were 30th of September, and the AG said that they’re shifting the deadlines to 31st of December.

Earlier: The deadline for mandatorily linking Aadhaar for welfare schemes will be extended to 31st December from 30st September, the Attorney General told the Supreme Court yesterday, reports PTI. This is being done because, following the Right to Privacy judgment from the Supreme Court, the petitioners pushed for a speedy hearing of the Aadhaar case, given the 30th September deadline. Following the extension announced by the government, Supreme Court has decided to hear the petitions challenging various aspects of Aadhaar in the first week of November, since there is no clear urgency.

As per reports, Supreme Court will set up a five-judge Constitution bench to hear the cases, as was expected when the SC decided to hear the Right to Privacy case separately from the Aadhaar case.

Aadhaar has been made mandatory for various schemes like concession on railway tickets, subsidy on e-rickshaws, and other direct benefit transfers, and non-welfare schemes like opening of bank accounts, filing of tax returns, linking of property records, linking health record, and verification of new existing mobile phone numbers, so-on-and-so-forth.

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In June this year, SC ruled that the Indian government cannot cancel PAN cards if citizens don’t link an Aadhaar number to their PAN card. The PAN card is a necessary document for filing taxes. The court had also highlighted the issue of leakages of personal data and Aadhaar numbers online, creating security concerns for citizens. The Aadhaar data base has already recorded the biometrics of 1.17 billion Indians so far.

Aadhaar Leaks

  • Ola employee arrested for accessing Aadhaar KYC data– Abhinav Srivastav, the Ola employee and co-founder of Qarth Technologies, was arrested by the Bangalore City Police on the 1st of August 2017. The investigation of the Bangalore Police revealed that Srivastava accessed and made available UIDAI data through the “Aadhaar e-KYC verification” application. More importantly, this was done through the “e-Hospital” application and its server.
  • In May, MediaNama had aggregated a list of instances of organizations publishing Aadhaar information online.
  • The Centre for Internet and Society subsequently reported that over Aadhaar number and personal information of over 130 million users had been published online. The UIDAI itself was responsible for publishing Aadhaar numbers of a few users.

Faulty law

Currently, according to the Aadhaar Act, a citizen has no recourse in case of a data breach because your Aadhaar data doesn’t belong to you: it belongs to the government. While the UIDAI has acted in some cases against external agencies (around 34,000 of them), there is no information on cases being filed against government departments filing these cases.

Also Read: mAadhaar, Aadhaar deadlines, enrolment issues and more

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