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SC pins govt down on Aadhaar 'coercion'

The Supreme Court has asked the Centre to clarify on Monday that no coercive steps will be taken to make Aadhaar mandatory till a constitution bench rules on the scheme's validity.

By Our Legal Correspondent
  • Published 26.10.17
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New Delhi: The Supreme Court has asked the Centre to clarify on Monday that no coercive steps will be taken to make Aadhaar mandatory till a constitution bench rules on the scheme's validity.

The directive came in spite of the Centre seeking to assuage concerns by extending the deadline for linking the Aadhaar number to various facilities from December 31 to March 31, next year, for those who do not have the cards now.

The court decided that a five-judge bench would look into the validity of the Aadhaar scheme after an August judgment concluded that the right to privacy was a fundamental right.

The bench of Chief Justice Dipak Misra and Justices A.M. Khanwilkar and D.Y. Chandrachud sought the clarification from attorney-general K.K. Venugopal after complaints from several senior lawyers.

The lawyers said that despite repeated orders of the court saying Aadhaar could not be made mandatory, the Centre was adopting coercive methods, compelling people to link the cards with their bank accounts, mobile phones, schools and other educational institutions.

"We will not take any coercive steps," Venugopal said. But the lawyers rejected the oral assurance and insisted on a written undertaking.

With Venugopal reluctant to give a written assurance, the court asked him to take instructions from the Centre by Monday.