Supreme Court to Centre: How can you make Aadhaar mandatory for PAN when we have passed an order to make it optional
By Kanu Sarda | Express News Service | Published: 21st April 2017 11:53 AM |
NEW DELHI: The Supreme Court on Friday posed tough questions to the Centre for making Aadhaar card mandatory for PAN cards, despite its clear direction that it should be optional.
The Centre, however, clarified that the step was being taken to end the generation of fake PAN and ration cards and to stop diversion of funds to shell firms.
Attorney general Mukul Rohatgi, appearing on the behalf of the Centre, said the government has found that a large number of fake PAN cards were procured on the basis of fake ration cards and other documents and these were used to divert funds to shell companies. He also stated instances where a person was found in possession of several PAN cards.
The AG also quoted Section 139AA of the Income Tax Act, introduced by the Finance Act 2017, which makes it mandatory to provide Aadhaar card number and enrolment ID of Aadhaar application form for filing income tax returns and for making application for allotment of PAN number, with effect from July 1 this year.
The AG further clarified to the Bench that on previous occasions too, the court itself had agreed to make Aadhaar mandatory in certain fields to protect identity and national security. Citing the order, AG said, “You yourself had recently ordered that Aadhaar should be made mandatory to procure SIM cards.”
Senior counsel Arvind Datar, representing former Kerala Minister and CPI leader Binoy Viswam told the bench that they have challenged the constitutional validity of section 139AA of the Income Tax Act.
“As per this section, if one does not have Aadhaar card, he cannot have a PAN. This would create huge difficulties,” he told the Bench, which said it would hear arguments on the plea on April 25. In March, the court clarified that Aadhaar cards cannot be made mandatory by the government for extending benefits of social welfare schemes and said that Centre cannot be barred from seeking Aadhaar cards for non- benefit purposes like filing of I-T returns and opening of bank accounts.
In 2015, court had also made it clear that Aadhaar cards will not be mandatory for availing benefits of government’s welfare schemes.