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NEW DELHI: The Supreme Court eased on Friday the pressure mounted by banks and telecom companies on customers through frequent messages to link Aadhaar with bank accounts and mobile phone numbers and ordered that they intimate people about the deadline for doing so.
A bench of Justices A K Sikri and Ashok Bhushan said even judges are not spared from such messages, which the petitioners termed as part of coercion to link Aadhaar with bank accounts and mobile phones.
The bench ordered telcos and banks not to create panic among people and asked them to specify in the messages that the deadline for Aadhaar-bank account linkage is December 31 and February 6 for mobile phones.
Petitioners challenging the constitutional validity of Aadhaar have alleged that customers were being bombarded with messages threatening deactivation of bank accounts and mobile phone connections if they failed to link them with their UIDAI numbers. Senior advocate Shyam Divan and Arvind Datar, appearing for the petitioners, sought an interim stay on such mandatory linking of Aadhaar with bank accounts and mobile phones through pressure tactics.
When attorney general K K Venugopal opposed these arguments terming them as oral and off-the-cuff allegations, Justice Sikri said such messages should not be sent without mentioning the deadline. “I do not want to say in the presence of media but I am also receiving such messages,” he said in a lighter vein.
“We make it clear that in the messages sent by banks and telecom service providers, the date of December 31, 2017 and February 6, 2018 shall also be indicated as the last date of linking Aadhaar with bank accounts and mobile numbers [respectively],” the bench ordered while refusing to stay the rules under the Prevention of Money Laundering Act mandating Aadhaar-bank account linkage and a telecom department circular making Aadhaar the new e-KYC for mobile phones.
The petitioners insisted that Centre’s decision to frame rules to prosecute people for not linking their account number with Aadhaar was illegal and requested the court to stay the government’s notification.
The bench however said, “Since the final hearing would start in November-end and the time for linking Aadhaar has already been extended, there is no need to pass an interim order.”