In a temporary setback for the government's plan to make Aadhaar mandatory for all citizens, the Supreme Court has partially stayed the newly-inserted provision of the Income Tax Act that makes linking of Aadhaar number with the Permanent Account Number (PAN) mandatory.
The bench of Justice A.K. Sikri and Justice Ashok Bhushan on Friday upheld the Section 139AA subject to the final verdict on the privacy issues which is pending before the constitution bench.
139AA upheld subject to CB judgment. So no final word yet on that!
— Prasanna S (@prasanna_s) June 9, 2017
"We're not touching the aspect of privacy under Article 21 as it is already pending before the constitutional bench," justice Sikri said. Those who don't have Aadhaar card can file income tax returns without linking it to PAN.
Partial reading down of 139AA of I-T Act by SC. People who don't have Aadhaar now need not apply for I-T purposes. — Prasanna S (@prasanna_s) June 9, 2017
As per the judgement, PAN will not be invalidated if it is not linked to Aadhaar.
The court had on 4 May reserved the order on the pleas by senior Communist Party of India (CPI) leader Binoy Viswam, former Major General of Indian Army S.G. Vombatkere and Convenor of Safai Karamchari Andolan Bezwada Wilson, who had challenged the validity of Section 139AA.
The petitioners had told the court that the provision mandating linking of Aadhaar number with the PAN would have "extremely far-reaching consequences not only for individuals but small businesses too".
The petitioners had told the court that the government had an agenda to push Aadhaar and pointed to the dichotomy between Aadhaar Act, 2016 that makes possessing Aadhaar optional and the Section 139AA of the Income Tax Act that makes its linking with PAN compulsory.
"A right that is voluntary under Aadhaar Act can't be made a penal provision under the Income Tax Act," petitioner CPI leader Visman had told the court.
The court was told that "slowly, step by step the government is making it compulsory by linking it with various things". "Is it not a contempt of court?"
The top court by its earlier orders had said that the government could insist upon Aadhaar only for distribution of food grains, LPG and other schemes including MNREGA, old-age pension scheme, provident fund and Prime Minister's Jan-Dhan Yojana.
With inputs from IANS
Updated Date: Jun 09, 2017 15:33 PM