Attorney General of India KK Venugopal told the Supreme Court on Wednesday that the government had extended the deadline for obtaining the Aadhaar card for social welfare schemes to December 31, ANI reported. The apex court said it will begin hearing petitions against the Aadhaar programme in the first week of November.

The government’s move to extend the deadline for obtaining the Aadhaar card comes at a time a petition, which claimed that making Aadhaar compulsory infringed upon the right to privacy, was still pending in the apex court. On August 24, the Supreme Court in a landmark judgement had declared that the right to privacy is a fundamental right under Article 21 of the Indian Constitution. This decision could have a bearing on the petitions against Aadhaar.

On August 1, the Unique Identification Authority of India had told the Supreme Court that it was “technically impossible” to use the data to spy on people who have enrolled in the unique identification programme. Additional Solicitor General Tushar Mehta, appearing for the Unique Identity Development Authority of India, said several safeguards have been built into the Aadhaar law to avoid surveillance, which critics fear the government will be in a position to do as more necessities are linked to the project.

The government has so far made Aadhaar mandatory for accessing a number of benefits, as well for opening bank accounts, filing I-T returns and registration of deaths.