NEW DELHI: The Supreme Court on Wednesday asked the Centre to step in to resolve the ‘identity crisis’ the third gender faced while linking their 12-digit biometric number Aadhaar with the PAN card.
The SC directive came on a petition of a transgender person alleging that her attempts to link her PAN card with Aadhaar in accordance with the new norm had failed because the PAN card application form does not contain a ‘third gender’ column.
Taking note of the petition, a bench headed by Chief Justice Dipak Misra issued notice to Centre and asked it to explore ways, including updation of the software, to find a solution to the problem in eight weeks’ time.
Though a technical issue, it has an impact on the transgender population of the country, which according to the 2011 Census, is around 4,88,000.
According to the Finance Act, 2017, it is mandatory to link the PAN card with Aadhaar and the deadline for this is June 30.
While an Aadhaar card can identify a person as a transgender, his/ her existing PAN card would reflect the gender assigned to the person at birth — either male or female. As a result of this mismatch, the two cannot be linked.
In her petition, Reshma Prasad, a social activist from Bihar, sought a direction to the Centre to create a ‘third gender’ category on PAN card to enable transgenders to link it with Aadhaar to get an “accurate identity proof”.
The petition cited the provision of section 139AA of the Income Tax Act (1961), which makes the linking of PAN with Aadhaar mandatory to curb tax evasion, weed out multiple PAN cards and track fraudulent financial transactions. Failure to comply with the deadline could lead to the cancellation of PAN cards.
Earlier this month, a similar petition was filed by Mumbai-based transgender Satyshri Sharmila citing this lacuna.