The deadline for mandatory linking of Aadhaar to avail benefits of government schemes has been postponed to March 31, 2018, the Centre informed the Supreme Court on Wednesday.
Advocate General K K Venugopal told the apex court that the Union government will take no coercive action against those who do not have Aadhaar and they will not be denied social welfare scheme benefits till March 31.
The Centre had earlier extended the last date for mandatory linking of the 12-digit biometric identification number to avail social benefits to December 31, 2017 from the earlier September 30.
As many as 135 schemes (of 35 ministries) including the free cooking gas (LPG) to poor women, kerosene and fertilizer subsidy, targeted public distribution system (PDS) and MGNREGA will be covered by the extension.
This latest move to further defer the deadline was in response to a slew of petitions in the Supreme Court challenging the constitutional validity of the decision to make linking of mobile numbers and bank accounts with Aadhaar a must.
Petitioners vociferously raised the issue of mandatory linking of Aadhaar with bank accounts and mobile numbers, saying it is illegal. They also claimed that non-linking of Aadhaar with bank account would make citizens liable for prosecution under the PMLA Act.