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NEW DELHI: Citing an order passed by the Supreme Court, the Centre told the apex court on Thursday that all subscribers had to link their mobile phone numbers with Aadhaar by February 6 under E-KYC verification and production of Aadhaar proof was mandatory for opening new bank accounts.
The Centre’s new affidavit, running into 113 pages and filed through advocate Zoheb Hossain, said it was the SC which had approved the norm for mandatory Aadhaar-mobile phone linkage in the Lokniti Foundation case on February 6 with a window of one year. The government also asserted that no starvation death had taken place anywhere because of anyone not having Aadhaar.
The deadline for linkage of Aadhaar with mobile phone number cannot be modified by the government unilaterally (as it is fixed by the SC),” the Centre said, adding that it has decided to extend the deadline for linking Aadhaar with existing bank accounts till March 31.
The assertion acquires significance considering that while hearing a separate petition on Monday challenging the mandatory linking of mobile phones with Aadhaar, a two-judge bench of the SC had sought the government’s response in next four weeks.
A Constitution bench will hear a bunch of petitions challenging the validity of Aadhaar on the ground that it violated citizens’ right to privacy.
In its fresh affidavit, the Centre said: “Until March 31, existing bank accounts will not be made non-operational for not linking with Aadhaar. But as far as opening new bank accounts are concerned, Aadhaar or enrolment ID must be given as proof of identity. For existing account holders, the deadline for Aadhaarbased verification is being extended to March 31 and no coercive action will be taken till then.”
Like the Aadhaar-mobile phone linkage, the SC had validated the Centre’s decision for mandatory linking of Aadhaar with PAN or filing of income tax returns, it said, adding that the court had given partial relief to “those who do not have Aadhaar and who do not obtain Aadhaar for the time being, that their PAN will not be deemed to be invalid” for this financial year.
The Centre cited several major cyberattacks and hackings in the recent past that affected many countries and said, “There has not been a single instance of hacking or data breach in or from UIDAI or any of its servers.”
Quoting a TOI report of July 22 headlined ‘One cybercrime in India every 10 minutes’, the Centre said the incidents of cybercrime and hacking showed that such instances were rampant with or without Aadhaar.