The Central Board of Direct Taxes late on Saturday extended the deadline for linking the Permanent Account Number card with the Aadhaar biometric identification system to March 31, 2019. This is the fifth time the government has extended the deadline, with the last extension coming on March 27.

In May, the Supreme Court reserved its judgement on a batch of petitions challenging the constitutional validity of the Aadhaar programme and its enabling law. The apex court has ordered that the deadline for linking the biometric programme to the government’s welfare schemes be extended till it delivers the verdict.

The hearing, which began on January 17 and lasted 38 days, was the second-longest in the history of the top court after Kesavanada Bharati versus State of Kerala (1973). The petitioners raised privacy concerns before the five-judge Constitution bench and questioned why the identity number had been made mandatory for people to avail welfare schemes, file income tax returns, and hold mobile numbers and bank accounts.

Last year, the Centre had made linking Aadhaar with PAN compulsory to file income tax returns and for any bank transaction over Rs 50,000.