The Supreme Court of India(SCI) on Friday June 09,2017 upheld Central government’s amendments to the Income Tax Act that requires Aadhaar card holders to seed their UID number for filing income tax returns.
The SCI, however, read down the law to state that Permanent Account Number (PAN) card of those, who do not link it with Aadhaar or enrolment application forms for Aadhaar, will not be rendered invalid.
A bench led by Justice A K Sikri said that invalidation of PAN cards for not linking it with Aadhaar was too serious a consequence and that the government should consider prescribing a less stringent punishment.
The judge upheld the Parliament’s power to enact the new law and said it did not violate any fundamental right. He added that the amendments to the Act and in particular Section 139AA of the Act did not suffer from any vice and met the criteria of reasonableness and legislative competence.
The judge then said that the bench has also rejected an argument by PIL petitioners, including CPI leader Binoy Viswam, that the Parliament could not have enacted the Aadhaar Act in view of restraint order by a larger bench that no person can be compelled to enroll for Aadhaar.
But Justice Sikri said that the penal provision prescribing for invalidation of PAN card for not linking it with Aadhaar was not appropriate on the principle of “proportionality”.
The court held that PAN cards won’t be rendered invalid in such cases until the larger bench decides the main matter where Aadhaar has been challenged on the ground of breaching right to privacy.
Justice Sikri also cautioned the government against data leakage and said that leakage must be plugged to instill public confidence.
1) If you want a fresh PAN, you must quote Aadhaar or application form number
2) If you already have an Aadhaar, you must quote it for filing tax returns
3) If you don’t have an Aadhaar and haven’t applied for it, your PAN won’t be rendered invalid
4) Your PAN won’t be invalid but you won’t be able to file tax returns if you don’t have an Aadhaar