The Supreme Court of India today questioned the Central Government for making Aadhaar Card mandatory for procuring a Permanent Account Number (PAN) card. In its defence, the government said that fake PAN cards were being used to "divert funds" to shell firms. "Forcibly asking people to get Aadhaar cards when this court has already said Aadhaar is not mandatory".
After listening the arguments of the both parties, the apex court said that it will look into the constitutional validity of the decision and posted the matter for further hearing on April 25.
Section 139AA states, "Every person who is eligible to obtain Aadhaar number shall, on or after July 1, 2017 quote Aadhaar number in the application form for allotment of PAN, in the return of income".
To these question centre replied to the Supreme Court saying, "We have legislative backing to make Aadhar mandatory".
However, in October 2015 it permitted voluntary use of Aadhaar number in welfare schemes, including MGNREGA, pension schemes, provident fund and "Pradhan Mantri Jan Dhan Yojna".
As senior advocate Arvind Datar, appearing for Viswam contended the amendment was draconian, the bench asked Attorney General Mukul Rohatgi, "Why you insist for it?"
The government has nevertheless been expanding the scope of the Unique Identity project over the past few months by introducing it for initiatives such as the midday meal scheme of school lunches for children, and, most recently, requiring Aadhaar to file income tax returns.
It can, however, do so for other services such as the opening of bank accounts or the issuance of driving licences, a bench headed by Chief Justice J.S. Khehar had said. Possession of Aadhaar card is necessary for the continuing validity of an existing PAN and for filing returns under the income tax law.
In case Supreme Court decides to stop the linking of Aadhaar with PAN Card, then it can be a huge embarrassment for the Govt.
Mr Rohatgi told the court that fake PANs and ration cards have flooded the market and affected financial transactions.