1. Aadhaar-PAN linkage move panned by Supreme Court

Aadhaar-PAN linkage move panned by Supreme Court

AG argues in defence that fake PAN, ration cards have flooded the market so the link is a necessity.

By: | New Delhi | Updated: April 22, 2017 6:54 AM
The AG also drew the court’s attention to the fact that Parliament passed the Aadhaar Act in March 2016 to give it legal backing. (Reuters)

Less than a month after it said nothing prohibited the government from making Aadhaar mandatory for non-welfare purposes, the Supreme Court on Friday questioned the Centre for making the unique biometric identity card a must for filing of tax returns and obtaining PAN. “How can you make Aadhaar card mandatory when we have passed an order to make it optional?” a bench led by justice AK Sikri asked attorney general Mukul Rohatgi. Rohatgi had earlier said that mandatory seeding of PAN numbers with Aadhaar — done through the latest Finance Bill which inserted Section 139AA of the Income Tax Act — was a “legislative mandate”. He also recalled that the apex court had made Aadhaar mandatory for procuring SIM cards to check misuse and protect national security.

The AG also drew the court’s attention to the fact that Parliament passed the Aadhaar Act in March 2016 to give it legal backing. A three-member bench headed by Chief Justice JS Khehar on March 28 reiterated that disbursements of assorted government subsidies and doles cannot be strictly Aadhaar-linked, but said that there was no bar on linking of non-welfare schemes to Aadhaar. It also expressed its ability to set up a wider constitutional bench to decide the fundamental question of privacy at this juncture.

The bench headed by Sikri said it would hear arguments on the plea challenging the government’s move making Aadhaar mandatory for PAN cards on April 25. The apex court had in September 2013 said that Aadhaar was not necessary for availing essential services and, in August 2015, while asserting this, restricted its use to PDS and LPG schemes. It, however, had said the privacy issue would need to be decided by a constitutional bench. After the SC allowed voluntary use of Aadhaar in welfare schemes like MGNREGS, PM Jan Dhan Yojana, LPG and PDS, the government has considerably strengthened its Aadhaar payment bridge and a third of payments under the direct benefit transfer (DBT) schemes are already disbursed using it.

However, the government cannot deny a citizen these benefits for her not having Aadhaar even though vast majority of Indians already have the ID. Rohatgi argued that fake PANs and ration cards have flooded the market and jinxed financial transactions. “We found a number of PAN cards being used to divert funds to shell companies. To prevent that (from happening) the only option is to make Aadhaar card mandatory,” the AG told the apex court. “A person can get multiple PANs in the names of Mukesh Gupta, then another PAN as Mukesh Kumar Gupta and a third one as MK Gupta, so on and so forth,” the AG explained the leaky nature of identity proofs now.

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Rohatgi further said that Aadhaar is voluntary only with respect to availing social service schemes. The court was hearing two different petitions, one by SG Vombatkere, a retired Indian Army officer, and the other by former Kerala minister and CPI leader Binoy Viswam. The petitions challenged the constitutionality of Section 139AA inserted in the Income Tax Act, 1961, by the Finance Act, 2017. The provision makes Aadhaar mandatory for filing income tax returns from assessment year 2017-18. Possession of an Aadhaar card is necessary for obtaining PAN and continued validity of an existing PAN.

One of the petitioners contended that the Aadhaar Act itself does not make obtaining Aadhaar mandatory. The object of Income Tax Act is to levy tax on the income earned by a person and to provide a mechanism for payment and collection of the same. According to them, parting with biometrics has no rational nexus to the said object and creates a wrongful classification among a homogeneous group of taxpayers.

  1. R
    Reader
    Oct 15, 2017 at 11:26 am
    A centralized and inter-linked biometric database like Aadhaar will lead to profiling and self-censorship, endangering freedom. Personal data gathered under the Aadhaar program is prone to misuse and surveillance. Aadhaar project has created a vulnerability to identi-ty fraud, even identi-ty theft. Easy harvesting of biometrics traits and publicly-available Aadhaar numbers increase the risk of impersonation, especially online and banking fraud. Centralized databases can be hacked. Biometrics can be cloned, copied and reused. Thus, BIOMETRICS CAN BE FAKED. High-resolution cameras can capture your fingerprints and iris information from a distance. Every eye hospital will have iris images of its patients. So another person can clone your fingerprints and iris images without your knowledge, and the same can be used for authentication. If the Aadhaar scheme is NOT STOPPED by the Supreme Court, the biometric features of Indians will soon be cloned, misused, and even traded.
    Reply
    1. R
      Reader
      Oct 15, 2017 at 11:25 am
      UK’s Biometric ID Database was dismantled. Why the United Kingdom's biometrics-linked National Identi-ty Card project to create a centralized register of sensitive information about residents similar to Aadhaar was scrapped in 2010?? The reasons were the massive threat posed to the privacy of people, the possibility of a surveillance state, the dangers of maintaining such a huge centralized repository of personal information, and the purposes it could be used for, and the dangers of such a centralized database being hacked. The other reasons were the unreliability of such a large-scale biometric verification processes, and the ethics of using biometric identification.
      Reply
      1. R
        Reader
        Oct 15, 2017 at 11:25 am
        The US Social Security Number (SSN) card has NO BIOMETRIC DETAILS, no photograph, no physical description and no birth date. All it does is confirm that a particular number has been issued to a particular name. Instead, a driving license or state ID card is used as an identification for adults. The US government DOES NOT collect the biometric details of its own citizens for the purpose of issuing Social Security Number. The US collects the fingerprints of only those citizens who are involved in any criminal activity (it has nothing to do with SSN), and the citizens of other countries who come to the US.
        Reply
        1. R
          RAMESH G
          Apr 30, 2017 at 7:44 am
          I just don't know which .oles I should approach to get aadhar number. I didn't care much about it because I was told its purpose was to claim subsidies only. Then that that Arun Jaitley and others come out to tell Adhar is compulsory. I have no objection to get one. Make the process easy to understand and get Adhar number.
          Reply
          1. M
            mukesh patel
            Apr 23, 2017 at 12:58 pm
            Every now and than the goverment proposes and supreme court disposes. What the judiciary is willing i think justice Sikri should head the govt.of india.
            Reply
            1. J
              Jacob
              Apr 22, 2017 at 3:34 pm
              The pan and adhar cannot be linked because pan has got the expansion of initials and adhar is not having the expansion of initial.
              Reply
              1. M
                Moving-cheese
                Apr 22, 2017 at 2:42 pm
                Either these Judges do not live in India or have a different agenda. A school boy will know benami, impersonation, tax evasion, black money....These are curses of India and no one tool can solve these. Linking Aadhar to PAN is one more try at cracking the nexus among politicians, business, bureaucracy and judiciary. Throwing spanner by judiciary shows the sinister plan openly.
                Reply
                1. Ranganathan Balasubramanian
                  Apr 22, 2017 at 2:21 pm
                  as per latest, the aadhar has to be linked with PAN. Even though i have both but jcould not link due to various problums. As 31 st july ha to be last day for submitting IT returns this is major task. Now govt should accept the pan and aadaer given and make permanant this, as record
                  Reply
                  1. Fahad Lavdoo
                    Apr 22, 2017 at 2:17 pm
                    This highly egoistic judges don't want to let go of their vacations and putting in nose of everything. Why can't they allow outside agencies selecting them. something good government is doing and it is putting it's leg everywhere. All the black money ders might be leveraging to get this kind of judgements
                    Reply
                    1. V
                      VENKATESAN
                      Apr 22, 2017 at 12:55 pm
                      Privacy of a person will be pure If and only if he only can allow or control it. This should not be made public. The basics of life should not be shattered. The inability of govt organisations in controlling pan issues and collection of tax should not burden back the tax payers. Linking aadhar is ridiculous and to be termed as tuglaq act
                      Reply
                      1. Anupam Sarkar
                        Apr 22, 2017 at 2:43 pm
                        True. We cannot allow any tamper with our privacy, when even the simplest ATMs in country are vulnerable to hacking.
                        Reply
                      2. Balakrishnan Hariharan
                        Apr 22, 2017 at 12:28 pm
                        Time at hand for the Judiciary to take over the Executive functions of the Government also.w
                        Reply
                        1. S
                          Subramani
                          Apr 22, 2017 at 10:08 am
                          In South India, we put initials in all records except PAN. However, the PAN has expanded name. Now the linking might become a problem for taxpayers for uploading the returns. If mere mention of Aadhaar is enough it would be better as against linking exercise.The taxpayers are put to discomfort by demonetization, the on -going har ment in the guise of verification of cash deposit and blocking return filing by putting Aadhaar as a prerequisite.
                          Reply
                          1. R
                            Radhakrishnan
                            Apr 22, 2017 at 9:54 am
                            many are facing problem in linking PAN with Aadhar because full name is given in for IT purposes where as it comes with intiials before or after name-oñe solution is to enter PAN card details in Aadhar online or through aadhar registration.centres
                            Reply
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