New Delhi: The Supreme Court (SC) on Friday refused to pass an interim order staying the linking of Aadhaar with mobile numbers and bank accounts, saying that it is leaving the issue to be decided on by a Constitution bench.
At the same time though, the top court chastised banks and mobile telephone companies for creating panic by sending customers messages saying their accounts will be deactivated if they don’t link them to Aadhaar.
The Centre denied that such messages were being sent. “I don’t want to say (so) but I also get messages,” said Justice AK Sikri, referring to the sometimes umpteen-a-day text messages threatening deactivation for not linking one’s Aadhaar to one’s bank account and mobile phone number.
The top court asked these institutions to avoid scaring people in this manner, while it was hearing a plea from social activists to restrain the Centre from linking Aadhaar to bank accounts and mobile phone numbers until a Constitution bench decides its validity.
Such a bench is expected to soon hear a bunch of petitions challenging the validity of Aadhaar on the ground that it violated citizens’ right to privacy.
The SC on Friday also asked the Centre to direct companies to mention in their text messages, the last date for linking their mobile numbers and bank accounts with Aadhaar.
This statement from the SC came a day after the Centre told the apex court that all subscribers had to link their mobile phone numbers with Aadhaar by February 6 under E-KYC verification. The Centre also said on Thursday that showing proof of Aadhaar is mandatory for opening new bank accounts.
The Centre further said on Thursday that it was the SC that had approved the norm for mandatory Aadhaar-mobile phone linkage – with a window of one year – in the Lokniti Foundation case on February 6.
Earlier this week, while hearing a separate petition challenging the mandatory linking of mobile phones with Aadhaar, a two-judge bench of the SC had sought the government’s response on the question in four weeks.