The government on Wednesday admitted that there was no Supreme Court order on linking mobile numbers with Aadhaar. The Centre conceded after the Constitution bench hearing a batch of petitions challenging the biometric identification system raised questions over such an apparent order being used as a tool to make the linking mandatory, PTI reported.

“There was no such direction from the Supreme Court, but you took it and used it as tool to make Aadhaar mandatory for mobile users,” the Supreme Court said at the hearing on Wednesday.

Rakesh Dwivedi, the advocate representing the Unique Identification Authority of India, tried to justify the move, arguing that the direction from the Department of Telecommunications was based on the court’s order on the need to verify mobile number. He also said that the Telegraph Act gave “exclusive power to the central government to decide the licence conditions” of service providers.

The court then questioned how the telecom department could “impose conditions on service recipients for seeding Aadhaar with mobile phones” as the licence agreements were between the government and service providers. Dwivedi maintained that “the measure is reasonable in the interest of national security”.

On March 13, the Supreme Court had indefinitely extended the March 31 deadline to link Aadhaar with bank accounts and mobile numbers. A five-judge Constitution bench headed by Chief Justice Dipak Misra had said there would be no deadline making it mandatory to link Aadhaar with any service until the court pronounces its judgement on a batch of petitions challenging the constitutional validity of the biometric identification programme and its enabling 2016 law.

The petitioners have raised privacy concerns and have also questioned why the identity number has been made mandatory for people to avail of welfare schemes, file income tax returns, and hold mobile numbers and bank accounts.