New Delhi: The Supreme Court on Friday agreed to hear a plea challenging the government’s decision to make Aadhaar mandatory for filing of income-tax returns as well as for obtaining and retaining the permanent account number (PAN).
A bench comprising justices A.K. Sikri and Ashok Bhushan asked the government to justify the notification in this regard.
“There is widespread misuse of PAN. The move is to weed out fake PANs that are being used to divert funds to shell companies,” the government’s top law officer, attorney general Mukul Rohatgi said.
Three petitions have been filed against the government’s move by Binoy Vishwam, senior Communist Party of India leader; Bezwada Wilson, a Dalit rights activist; and S.G. Vombatkere, a retired army officer.
Senior advocate Arvind Datar, appearing for one of the petitioners, pointed out to the court that a 2015 interim order on Aadhaar specifies that the unique identification number cannot be made mandatory.
As per provisions of Finance Act 2017, the Aadhaar number or Aadhaar enrolment number will be mandatory to file income-tax returns and to apply for a new PAN. Further, an existing PAN can be declared void if the taxpayer does not link it with Aadhaar within the period that will be notified by the government.
The case will be heard next on 25 April.