NEW DELHI:Nearly after a month of reserving the order on a batch of pleas challenging the constitutional validity of provision in the Income Tax Act that makes Aadhaar card mandatory for filing Income Tax returns, the Supreme Court will pronounce its judgement on Friday.
The order would have wider implications as government authorities are expanding the ambit of Aadhaar for every service.
A Bench comprising Justices AK Sikri and Ashok Bhushan had on May 4 reserved the verdict on the pleas, challenging section 139AA of the Income Tax Act, which was introduced in the Finance Act, 2017.
Section 139AA of the Income Tax Act provides for mandatory quoting of Aadhaar or enrolment ID of Aadhaar application form for filing of I-T returns and making application for allotment of PAN (Permanent Account Number) with effect from July 1 this year. A group of petitioners including CPI leader Binoy Viswam have opposed the government’s move and contended that the Centre cannot belittle the apex court’s 2015 order holding the unique identification number as voluntary.
“Government should not have enacted section 139AA in the Act to make Aadhaar mandatory for PAN as the apex court’s five-judge Bench order was clear that Aadhaar was voluntary and not mandatory,” the petitioners had argued at length.
Centre had contended that Aadhaar was made mandatory for allotment of PAN to weed out fake cards which were used for terror financing and circulation of black money.
Attorney General Mukul Rohatgi had told the bench that the programme of PAN had become suspect as it could be faked, while Aadhaar is a secure and robust system by which the identity of an individual could not be faked. Rohatgi had said that with the implementation of Aadhaar, the government had saved over `50,000 crore on various schemes to benefit the poor as well as pension schemes.
Centre also informed the court that fake PAN cards were being used to divert funds to shell companies. He further based his arguments on the individual’s rights and said that the right over one’s body is not absolute and called the arguments of bodily intrusion to take biometric data for Aadhaar bogus.
“Bodily integrity is not absolute. There are so many certifications we give our biometrics for such as driving licence, buying property, etc. Only change here is that now fingerprint is taken on an electronic device,” the AG had said.