The Supreme Court on Tuesday indefinitely extended the March 31 deadline to link Aadhaar with bank accounts and mobile numbers. The top court said the government cannot insist on the provision of Aadhaar even to issue Tatkal passports.

The five-judge Constitution bench headed by Chief Justice Dipak Misra said there will be no deadline for the mandatory linking of Aadhaar until it pronounces judgment on a batch of petitions it is currently hearing that challenge the constitutional validity of the biometric identification programme and its enabling law. However, the deadline for subsidies and benefits will remain March 31.

The other judges on the bench are Justices AK Sikri, AM Khanwilkar, DY Chandrachud and Ashok Bhushan.

In June 2017, the Narendra Modi government had introduced a new rule, making it mandatory to link Aadhaar to various services and welfare schemes. Existing bank account holders were asked to furnish their Aadhaar number by December 31, failing which their account would cease to be operational. In December, the deadline was extended to March 31.