The Centre on Monday told the Supreme Court that it is willing to extend the deadline to link Aadhaar with various services to March 31, PTI reported.

In October, the government had told the court that it was open to the idea. This would, however, be for those who do not already have an Aadhaar number. Those who already have their 12-digit number will have to link it to services by December 31, the Centre had clarified.

On Monday, the Centre said it was willing to push the deadline after the Supreme Court refused interim relief in the case to a petitioner and said it may set up a Constitution bench next week to hear the matter of linking Aadhaar to avail social services, Mint reported.

The petitioner, senior advocate Shyam Divan, had sought an interim stay on linking Aadhaar with services in line with the court’s October 30 order. The Supreme Court had said it would create a five-member Constitution bench to begin hearing the petitions against Aadhaar in the last week of November.

Till then the government can continue to use Aadhaar for its programmes.

The Centre has made it mandatory to link more than 50 schemes with Aadhaar. It was also made compulsory to file Income Tax returns, even though the Supreme Court had restricted linking Aadhaar to six schemes. Several petitions have been filed in the Supreme Court against this linking.

In a landmark ruling in August, the Supreme Court had declared privacy a fundamental right protected under Article 21 of the Constitution. This was seen as a major blow to the Centre’s push for Aadhaar.