The last day to link the Aadhaar number to bank accounts, mobile phones and government schemes may be extended beyond March 31, 2018, the Central government told the Supreme Court on Tuesday.
The government suggestion came after petitioners challenging the constitutional validity of Aadhaar scheme sought such an extension. Their lawyer Shyam Divan claimed that the hearing of the case may not reach a conclusion by the end of this month.
"The deadline for mandatory linking of Aadhaar with various services and welfare schemes is March 31. This will have all India ramification as various institutions would have to adjust themselves accordingly," Divan said.
Attorney-General KK Venugopal, in response to the petitioners' arguments, told the apex court that the Centre had earlier extended the deadline and could do it again.
"We have extended the deadline in the past too. We can do it again. Let's see how the hearing proceeds. If required, we can do it again," Venugopal told a constitution bench headed by Chief Justice Dipak Misra.
The bench, which also comprises Justices AK Sikri, AM Khanwilkar, DY Chandrachud and Ashok Bhushan, agreed to Venugopal's observation.
"It is a very valid point raised by the Attorney General and the court would not allow repetitive arguments made by the petitioners' counsel in the matter," the bench was quoted as saying by The Times of India.
The members of the constitutional bench began hearing the petitions questioning the validity of the Aadhaar Act in February. While a few lawyers representing the petitioners have made their submissions on the case, some other lawyers are yet to file them.
Earlier on December 15, the Supreme Court had extended the Aadhaar linking deadline for bank accounts, mobile phones and various government schemes to March 31, 2018.