The Supreme Court has extended the March 31 deadline for linking the biometric ID programme or Aadhaar to a range of services indefinitely.
The apex court, which is hearing a slew of petitions on the legitimacy of the Centre's decision to make Aadhaar mandatory for services such as bank accounts and mobile phones, set aside the present deadline until it pronounced judgement.
However, the deadline for linking aadhaar for availing government subsidies, and benefits continues to be March 31.
A five-judge constitution bench, headed by Chief Justice of India Dipak Misra said the government cannot insist on making mandatory Aadhaar till the matter is subjudice.
Recently, a nine-judge constitution bench of the apex court had held that Right to Privacy was a Fundamental Right under the Constitution.
Some petitioners in the top court have termed the linking of the Unique Identification Authority of India (UIDAI) number with bank accounts and mobile numbers as "illegal and unconstitutional" and violated privacy rights.
Earlier in March, Centre had told the bench that since some more time would be needed to conclude the prolonged hearing in the Aadhaar case, the government may extend the deadline from March 31.
"We have extended the deadline in the past and we will extend the deadline again but we may do it by the end of month to enable the petitioners in the case conclude the arguments," Venugopal had said.
On December 15 last year, the apex court had extended till March 31 the deadline for mandatory linking of Aadhaar with various services and welfare schemes.
Earlier senior advocate Shyam Divan, who had led the arguments challenging Aadhaar and its enabling Act, said that the deadline of March 31 be extended as it was highly unlikely that the hearing in the case challenging the constitutional validity of the Aadhaar Act will be concluded.
"The deadline for mandatory linking of Aadhaar with various services and welfare schemes is March 31. This will have all India ramification as various institution would have to adjust themselves accordingly," Divan said.
Justice Chandrachud said even if the court reserved its verdict on March 20, the banks and other institution would have only 10 days left, which might be difficult.
With Agency Inputs