The Madras High Court has said that the Aadhaar number is necessary to file Income Tax returns and dismissed a plea seeking exemption from quoting it, a week after it allowed a woman to file her I-T returns without mentioning it. Petitioner Thiagarajan Kumararaja sought a direction for permitting him to file his I-T returns for the assessment year 2017-18 either manually or through the appropriate e-filing facility without insisting on quoting the Aadhaar number. The order comes a week after the same judge – T S Sivagnanam – allowed the woman to file her I-T returns without quoting the Aadhaar number or Aadhaar enrolment number. The judge had passed the interim order on a plea by Preethi Mohan. The woman’s counsel had move the court relying on a Supreme Court ruling in a case in which it had imposed a partial stay on the operation of Section 139AA of the Income Tax Act, which mandates linkage of Aadhaar with I-T returns. Citing the supreme court order in the Binoy Viswam vs Union of India case, Justice Sivagnanam, who dismissed the petition yesterday, said the apex court had rejected the contention that since enrolment under the Aadhaar Act is voluntary, it cannot be made compulsory under the Income Tax Act.
The judge said on a reading of the judgement rendered in the case, it would clearly show that the apex court has not stayed the “proviso to sub-section (2) of Section 139AA of the Act” and the partial stay would be applicable only to facilitate the other transactions, which are mentioned in rule 114B, where PAN is to be quoted in all documents. “Therefore, to state that the partial stay granted by the Hon’ble Supreme Court would endure to the benefit of the petitioner even for filing income tax returns is a plea, which is not sustainable and is liable to be rejected,” the judge said.
The judge said it has also been held that the purpose behind the Act namely the Income Tax Act, 1961 is entirely different, the purpose being to curb black money, money laundering and tax evasion, among others. It has been further held that for achieving such objects, if parliament chooses to make the provision mandatory under the Act, the competence of parliament cannot be questioned “on the ground that it is impermissible only because under the Aadhaar Act, the provision is directory in nature.”
The apex court also held that it is the prerogative of Parliament to make a particular provision directory in one statute and mandatory/compulsory in the other and that by itself cannot be a ground to question the competence of the legislature, the judge said. On October 31, the court had issued an interim direction to the I-T department to permit the woman to file her returns for the assessment year 2017-18 either manually or through appropriate e-filing facility without insisting for Aadhaar number. It also posted the matter to December 18 for the I-T department to file its counter.