During the hearing of the Constitutional Challenge to Aadhaar before the five-judge bench in the Supreme Court, Senior Advocate Rakesh Dwivedi, representing the government conceded that the Supreme Court had not ordered the linking of Aadhaar with mobile numbers, as claimed by the Department of Telecom (DoT) notification. However, he argued that the government had relied on the recommendation of TRAI and has the right to mandate the linking vide Section 4 of the Aadhaar Act and the Telegraph Act which allows it to stipulate conditions for telecom licenses.

The government has been pushing for linking Aadhaar with mobile phones. This is based on a DoT order that claims that the linking has been ordered by the Supreme Court during the Lok Niti case. A deadline mandating the linking of Aadhaar with mobile numbershad been announced for 30th September, that got pushed forward to 31st December 2017 and then, accompanied by confusions extended to 31st March, failing which, the mobile SIMs will be deactivated.

Privacy advocates have pointed out repeatedly that the Supreme Court has made no such order. There was a petition in the Supreme court challenging the linking of Aadhaar with mobiles as reported by Bar&Bench.

The Government of India is wilfully misinterpreting the order of this Hon’ble court and asserting that this Hon’ble court directed them to make Aadhaar mandatory for obtaining a new mobile connection, and for re-verifying existing prepaid and postpaid subscribers…  All that, this court directed was that in the interest of national security a proper verification of mobile subscribers should be carried out.

The deadlines for linking have repeatedly been pushed back, till finally they were stayed by the Supreme Court till the conclusion of the constitutional challenge to the Aadhaar Act being heard by a 5 judge bench of the Supreme Court. The DoT has also passed an order extending the deadline indefinitely.

This is the first time that the government has admitted that the Supreme Court had not ordered the linking of Aadhaar with mobile numbers as it has repeatedly claimed.