Justice D.Y. Chandrachud became an unexpected voice from within the Supreme Court to highlight the prevailing uncertainty and dangers, especially in the banking and financial sectors, of waiting till the “last minute” to extend the March 31 deadline for Aadhaar linkage.
One of the five judges on the Constitution Bench hearing the challenge to the Aadhaar scheme, Justice Chandrachud agreed with the apprehensions raised by petitioners on whether the March 31 deadline would be extended or not.
The Bench, led by Chief Justice Dipak Misra, had so far remained non-committal on the extension, saying there was still time. On December 15, the Supreme Court had extended the deadline till March 31 to link Aadhaar with bank accounts, mobile phones and several other essential services, welfare schemes and benefits.
“We are dealing with the entire financial system… We cannot let this state of uncertainty prevail… We cannot tell them, like on March 27, whether the deadline is extended or not… A banker cannot be expected to seek compliance from customers within seven days,” Justice Chandrachud addressed Attorney-General K.K. Venugopal on Wednesday.
Justice Chandrachud’s observations and the repeated urging of the petitioners’ lawyers, including senior advocates K.V. Vishwanathan, Arvind P. Datar and Shyam Diwan, to extend the March 31 deadline saw the Chief Justice react positively in favour of an extension.
“Extension of deadline… that we will do. Let them [arguments by petitioners’ lawyers in the Aadhaar case] finish. We will pass the order,” Chief Justice Misra orally observed.
Justice A.K. Sikri indicated from the Bench that it may pass an order to extend the deadline on the next day of hearing, March 13.