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The Supreme Court on Tuesday, March 13, revoked the government’s March 31 deadline for mandatory linking of Aadhaar with bank accounts and mobile phones till the five-judge bench gives its judgment on petitions challenging the constitutional validity of Aadhaar, said media reports.

The SC said that its interim order on not insisting Aadhaar, except for giving subsidy, will remain in force till the case is decided.

“The government cannot insist for mandatory Aadhaar even for issuance of Tatkal passport,” the Supreme Court said.

A five-judge constitution bench headed by Chief Justice Dipak Misra and comprising justices A K Sikri, AM Khanwilkar, DY Chandrachud and Ashok Bhushan had on March 7 said it may not be possible to decide by March 31 the batch of petitions challenging the constitutional validity of the Aadhaar Act.

The bench is currently hearing the petitioners in the case, after which the government will respond and present its arguments. A judgment in the case, therefore, is unlikely before the end of this month.

Last week, Attorney General KK Venugopal told the Supreme Court that the government was open to extending the deadline. “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.

The bench had earlier said that since the matter would have implications on financial institutions like banks and stock exchange, it would create a huge problem of compliance if the deadline was extended at the last moment.

The apex court had, on December 15 last year, extended the deadline for linking of Aadhaar with bank accounts and mobile phones to March 31.

The Constitution Bench is hearing challenges to the constitutional validity of the Aadhaar scheme on the touchstone of the fundamental right to privacy on a bunch of petitions by former Karnataka High Court Judge K S Puttuswamy, Magsaysay awardee Shanta Sinha, feminist researcher Kalyani Sen Menon, and others.

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