Accepting the Union government's suggestion, the Supreme Court on Friday deferred the deadline to link Aadhaar with various schemes to March 31, 2018.
A five-judge Constitution Bench headed by Chief Justice Dipak Misra, in an interim order, considered the statement of the Centre that it was willing to extend the deadline for linking the national biometric identifier with all services and welfare schemes.
This bench will on January 17 begin hearing petitions challenging the constitutional validity of the Centre's Aadhaar (Targeted Delivery of Financial and Other Subsidies, Benefits and Services) Act, 2016, on the ground that it impinges on a citizen's fundamental right to privacy.
The court chose to continue with its two-judge bench ruling on June 9 asking citizens with Aadhaar to cite the UID number while filing I-T returns.
The bench said, the deadline of February 6 next year for the objective also stood extended till 31st March.
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".
"Those who already have Aadhaar can not go on [open a new bank account] without Aadhaar".
On Thursday, a five-judge constitution bench that included Justices AK Sikri, AM Khanwilkar, DY Chandrachud and Ashok Bhushan heard several arguments against the Centre's direction for mandatory linking of one's Aadhaar to nearly 139 welfare schemes.
Upholding the validity of provision mandating the linking Aadhaar with PAN on the scales of Article 14 and Article 19, the top court on June 9 had said, "The validity of the provision upheld in the aforesaid manner is subject to passing the muster of Article 21 of the Constitution, which is the issue before the Constitution Bench".
Earlier the court had tagged 22 cases to be heard by a smaller bench.
The bench was hearing pleas by several people, including former High Court judge Justice K S Puttaswamy, seeking an interim stay on mandatory linking of Aadhaar with various schemes.
In this regard, the court ordered, "Subject to the submission of the details in regard to the filing of an application for an Aadhaar card and the furnishing of the application number to the account opening bank, we likewise extend the last date for the completion of the process of Aadhaar linking of new bank accounts to 31 March 2018".
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