October 22, 2017

Supreme Court reserves its order on Aadhaar-PAN linkage

The Supreme Court on Thursday reserved its order on whether to make Aadhaar mandatory for getting a Permanent Account Number (PAN) and to file tax returns.

An apex court bench compromising of Justice Arjan Kumar Sikri and Justice Ashok Bhushan asked all concerned parties to file their respective written submissions by Tuesday.

Attorney General Mukul Rohatgi informed the apex court that Aadhaar is unique and could not be duplicated.

Lawyers appearing for various petitioners, however, argued that the system is not full proof and can be duplicated.

On Tuesday, Rohatgi defended the Centre’s decision to make Aadhaar mandatory for PAN and also for filing of tax returns, citing that it was done to curb the use of fake PAN cards across the country.

Rohatgi said the Centre was entitled to have identification and people couldn’t claim immunity from it.

“There are safeguards for privacy under the Aadhar Act. Under the act the authority shall ensure security, confidentiality of data,” Rohatgi said.

The Attorney General argued the matter on the point of Section 139AA, inserted in the Income Tax Act under the Finance Act, 2017.

Earlier, the apex court had rapped the government for making Aadhaar compulsory for filing Income Tax returns.

It referred to its order in 2015 when the apex court had made the Aadhaar optional.

Referring to this, the court said, “How can you make Aadhaar card mandatory when we have passed an order to make it optional?”

The Attorney General argued that mandatory Aadhaar was the only way to check black money.

The court earlier on March 27 specified that the Aadhaar card should not be made mandatory for availing governmental schemes.

In a violation of the apex court’s order, the Centre introduced last-minute amendments to the Finance Bill 2017, making Aadhaar mandatory for filing taxes.

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