SC to hear plea against Aadhar link with PAN

The AG said that due to Aadhaar government has saved over Rs 50,000 crore on the schemes to benefit the poor as well as the pension schemes. File

The AG said that due to Aadhaar government has saved over Rs 50,000 crore on the schemes to benefit the poor as well as the pension schemes. File

Divan is representing three petitioners who are challenging the government's decision to make the Aadhaar number mandatory for filing income tax returns from July.

The SC had earlier asked the government why Aadhaar was being made compulsory for filing Income Tax returns, referring to its order in 2015.

During the arguments, which would continue tomorrow, the Centre said the Aadhaar Act was enacted in terms of the apex court's orders and Parliament has exercised its legislative powers for it.

The top court by its August 11, 2015, order had said that the Unique Identification Number or the Aadhaar card will not be used by the government or its agencies for any objective other than the PDS Scheme and in particular for the goal of distribution of foodgrains, etc. and cooking fuel, such as kerosene.

Rohatgi had also clarified that nowhere in section 139AA of IT Act, was it mentioned that it would be effective with retrospective effect. Countering the petitioner's argument about privacy concerns, Rohtagi said,"today, the only difference is that the photograph and fingerprints are not on paper but in an electronic medium. what is the bodily intrusion, which the petitioners have argued, I want to know. nobody can live in a vacuum as there is a social contract as well".

Attorney General Mukul Rohatgi argued that mandatory Aadhaar was the only way to check black money.

The government also said that leakage of information was never from the UIDAI database where the biometric information is stored.

The Centre pushed for mandatory Aadhaar cards, saying that it was a more robust and foolproof method than PAN cards, which can be faked.

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"They can not argue contrary to what is there in the statute enacted by Parliament", he said, adding, "there are no coercive proceedings in the Aadhaar Act and there are no penalties for not obtaining Aadhaar".

"It completely takes away your political and personal choices".

Most importantly, he submitted that the voluntary nature of the Aadhaar Act was clear from the fact that there was no punishment prescribed against people who opt not to take Aadhaar.

The Union of India had argued on Tuesday that the government has not found a single case of duplicity among the 113.7 crore Aadhaar cards it has issued till date. "The concept of civil liberties will go then", Divan said.

The idea behind bringing Aadhar into the scene was triggered by the fact that the country needed a "secure and robust system" to ensure that the PAN cards are not faked.

Telling the bench of Justice A.K.Sikri and Justice Ashok Bhushan that people and shell companies possessing multiple PAN cards were causing tax loss of thousands of crores of rupees, Attorney General Mukul Rohatgi said that government was not just dealing with the matter of tax collection but money laundering, curbing black money and terror funding.

This is published unedited from the PTI feed.

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