Aadhaar mandatory to avoid fake PAN cards: Government tells SC
03 May, 2017, 15:41
"An individual has a social contract with the state under which no constituent can say that I don't want to be identified", he said.
The A-G said that the programme of PAN had become suspect as it could be faked while Aadhaar is a "secure and robust" system by which the identity of an individual cannot be faked.
The Attorney General argued that mandatory Aadhaar was the only way to check black money.
Denying that the government meant to track individuals by linking PAN with Aadhar, the Attorney General said that was needed to curb the practice of tax evasion and to keep tabs on the circulation of black money as PAN was not a fool proof deterrent.
Taking fingerprints and iris impressions for Aadhaar is not an invasion of a citizen's body as the right of a person to his own body is not absolute, the government told the Supreme Court on Tuesday. The attorney general also said that the government has saved more than Rs50,000 crore in disbursing subsidies due to the introduction of Aadhaar.
"Of them, nearly 10 lakh PAN cards have been found to be fake", he said, adding, "while the government found no instance of duplicate Aadhaar cards".
Section 139AA provides for mandatory quoting of Aadhaar or enrolment ID of Aadhaar application form for filing of income tax returns and making application for allotment of PAN number with effect from July 1 this year.
He said that section 139A, which came in 1975, has not been challenged and it had come into existence with a objective to provide a unique identity for the persons who pay taxes. "It is meant to make India a tax-compliant society and ensure that the benefits of welfare schemes reach the poor", he said.
During the argument, the Attorney General said, "We have found multiple PAN cards but not multiple Aadhar".
India has worldwide obligations under the various treaties signed with other countries for exchange of financial information of its citizens staying overseas, most notably the Foreign Account Tax Compliant Act.
Rohatgi said that issue of interim orders passed by the apex court can not be a ground to assail a parliamentary legislation and there was no ban on Parliament to enact section 139AA. The petitioners, represented by senior counsel Shyam Divan, argued that Section 139AA is unconstitutional and in "direct collision" with the Aadhaar Act. If such a right existed then committing suicide would have been permitted and people would have been allowed to do whatever they wanted with their bodies. "What do you want?"
PAN card was introduced in 1975 to give unique identities to tax payers.
The apex court was hearing multiple petitions challenging the Centre's decision to make Aadhaar mandatory for filing income tax returns.
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.
The apex court had earlier put a poser as to why there was no objection from lawmakers on the government's decision to make Aadhaar mandatory for making PAN cards.