Mumbai: Citizens unaware of deadline extension, authorities force them to make Aadhaar cards

Mumbai: Many Mumbaikars are still getting messages from phone service providers and banks reminding them to link Aadhaar cards with various services even though there is no deadline to do so anymore. At least, not yet. Last week, the five-judge constitution bench headed by Chief Justice Dipak Misra said it may not be possible to decide by March 31 the batch of petitions challenging the constitutional validity of the Aadhaar Act.

The new deadline is now after the court disposes off the petitions challenging Aadhaar over its constitutional validity. The confusion, allege people, has also been created by Unique Identification Authority of India (UIDAI), the Aadhaar agency, which tweeted that Aadhaar would be required for ‘tatkal’ passports and opening of new bank accounts.

Amit Mishra, a Cotton Green resident, said he has been waiting for two days to link his Aadhaar Card. “I was not aware of the deadline having been extended, as was the case with many others. The queue was so long that I had to wait an entire day. What is more ironic is that even the bank officials are not aware of the SC ruling,” said Mishra. He was waiting at an Aadhaar linking kiosk at the Union Bank of India branch.

Some people were not aware of the deadline being extended but after they came to know of the temporary extension, they walked away. “Banks are not informing us about this ruling. In fact, they are handing out forms asking us to fill it when we go to the bank next time,” said Tushar Solani, a Kandivali businessman, adding, “They are taking advantage of people not being aware of the ruling. I will not link my Aadhar until Supreme Court finalises its stand.”

However, the SC order does not apply to the deadline for subsidies and benefits given by the government. In effect, the March 31 deadline still holds for accessing several crucial welfare services, including the Pradhan Mantri Ujjwala Yojana, the mid-day meal scheme, Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Act, among others, many of which are legal rights of citizens.

While some were confused on whether the Aadhaar linking deadline is still there or not, some think of it as a safety measure to link it anyway. “If they have not asked us now, they will after a month or two later. But they will anyhow want to know our private matters. So we might as well link it now itself,” said Shantanu Rai, a Dadar resident, who waited for his turn in an HDFC bank branch.

Mumbai Regional Congress Committee has also installed an Aadhaar linking centre at Chembur since three weeks wherein people were seen queueing for hours, still unaware of the SC ruling.

Meanwhile, schools have made it mandatory for parents to fill in the Aadhaar card details of their children in the admission forms. Preeti B said, “My son is about to complete three years but he does not have an Aadhaar card. We brought admission forms for nursery from various schools in our vicinity and to our surprise all of them had compulsorily asked for the details of the child’s Aadhaar.”

“We went to a nearby centre which was started by a bank and were stuck in a queue since early morning. After that, we were given a specific time when the child was called (for biometrics and other details) and all this took at least two to three days,” Preeti added.

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