The Supreme Court will on Wednesday hear a petition against Aadhar link with Permanent Account Number (PAN). The Centre yesterday defended in the apex court its decision of making Aadhar mandatory for PAN and also for filing tax returns, citing that it was done to curb the use of fake PAN cards across the country. Attorney General (AG) Mukul Rohtagi told the division bench of the apex court headed by Justice Arjan Kumar Sikri that the Central Government was entitled to have identification and people couldn’t claim immunity from it. “There are safeguards for privacy under the Aadhar Act. Under the act the authority shall ensure security, confidentiality of data,” Rohtagi said.
He further said that the government also records data for death, birth and marriage and also for issuance of driver’s license. “People can’t refuse to furnish data for driving license to argue that government shouldn’t collect data for purposes of people who are travelling,” Rohtagi argued.
The apex court was hearing the petition challenging the government’s decision of making Aadhaar mandatory for PAN and also for filing tax returns. The AG, top law officer representing the Central Government, argued the matter on the point of Section 139AA, inserted in the Income Tax Act under the Finance Act, 2017.
Earlier, the apex court had rapped the government for making Aadhaar compulsory for filing Income Tax returns. It referred to its order in 2015 when the apex court had made the Aadhaar optional.
Referring to this, the court said, “How can you make Aadhaar card mandatory when we have passed an order to make it optional?” The Attorney General argued that mandatory Aadhaar was the only way to check black money.
The court earlier on March 27 specified that the Aadhaar card should not be made mandatory for availing governmental schemes. In a violation of the apex court’s order, the Centre introduced last-minute amendments to the Finance Bill 2017, making Aadhaar mandatory for filing taxes.