Supreme Courts says to Centre Aadhaar Card is option not compulsory

Robyn Ryan
April 24, 2017

In one the fiercest rebuttal against the Aadhaar platform, Supreme Court has asked Centre, rather bluntly: "How can you make Aadhaar card mandatory when we have passed an order to make it optional?" We found some persons are holding two or three PAN cards. The Top Court has said that Aadhaar card cannot be compulsory to get the benefit of government's schemes, it can be an option.

Rohatgi defended the government's decision stating that people were furnishing PAN cards procured on the basis of fake documents.

Finance Minister Arun Jaitley had also said that the move was aimed to link PAN cards with Aadhaar and to identify those who avoided taxes by having duplicate PANs.

The provision makes Aadhaar mandatory for getting a PAN.

The court was told that Aadhaar number has been linked with Pan card as there were instances of people holding multiple or fake permanent account numbers. "So only to prevent such things Section 139A of the IT Act has been amended". "Why has it been made mandatory?"

Another senior advocate, Shyam Divan, representing Justice (retd) K. Puttaswamy, the main petitioner before the constitution bench, told the court the government should not have enacted the new policy when the larger issue of the Aadhaar scheme's constitutional validity was being examined.

The apex court was hearing a plea filed by CPI leader Binoy Viswam challenging constitutional validity of section 139AA of the Income Tax Act.

On August 11, 2015, the SC had said that Aadhaar cards will not be compulsory for getting benefits of government's welfare schemes and had instructed the authorities not to share personal biometric data collected for enrolment under the scheme, the India Today report says.

Rohatgi also told the court that the agencies had found a large number of PAN cards that were being used to channel funds for tax evasion.

"Is this the remedy", the bench again asked. The Centre's argument has been that the earlier order merely applies for beneficiary schemes like LPG and food grains and the government is free to use it for other services like income tax.

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