Supreme Court man­dates link­ing Aadhaar Card with PAN Card

Libertatem Magazine - - Contents - Swar­nalee Hal­dar

Bi­noy Biswam v Union of In­dia and ors. (W.P No- 247 of 2017)

The Supreme Court on Fri­day up­held the newly in­serted pro­vi­sion in the In­come Tax Act man­dat­ing the link­ing of Aadhaar with Per­ma­nent Ac­count Num­ber (PAN) for fil­ing of I-T re­turns, but it par­tially stayed its op­er­a­tion. A Bench of judges A K Sikri and Ashok Bhushan said those who al­ready pos­sessed Aadhaar num­ber would have to link it with PAN, but it could not be in­sisted upon in case of peo­ple not pos­sess­ing Aadhaar. The bench held “those who are not PAN hold­ers, while ap­ply­ing for PAN, they are re­quired to give Aadhaar num­ber. This is the stip­u­la­tion of sub-sec­tion (1) of Sec­tion 139AA, which we have al­ready up­held. At the same time, as far as ex­ist­ing PAN hold­ers are con­cerned since the im­pugned pro­vi­sions are yet to be con­sid­ered on the touch­stone of Ar­ti­cle 21 of the Con­sti­tu­tion, in­clud­ing on the de­bate around Right to Pri­vacy and hu­man dig­nity, etc. as limbs of Ar­ti­cle 21, we are of the opin­ion that till the afore­said as­pect of Ar­ti­cle 21 is de­cided by the Con­sti­tu­tion Bench a par­tial stay of the afore­said pro­viso is nec­es­sary. Those who have al­ready en­rolled them­selves un­der Aadhaar scheme would com­ply with the re­quire­ment of sub-sec­tion (2) of Sec­tion 139AA of the Act. Those who still want to en­rol are free to do so. How­ever, those as­sessees who are not Aadhaar card hold­ers and do not com­ply with the pro­vi­sion of Sec­tion 139(2), their PAN cards be not treated as in­valid for the time be­ing. It is only to fa­cil­i­tate other trans­ac­tions which are men­tioned in Rule 114B of the Rules”

Is­sues that were be­fore the Court

1. Whether 139AA is vi­ola­tive of Ar­ti­cle 21?

2. Whether the Supreme Court is per­mit­ted to over­rule its pre­vi­ous judg­ments where it has or­dered Aadhaar be­ing vol­un­tary?

3. Does 139AA amount to com­pelled speech un­der Ar­ti­cle 19(1)(a)?

The judg­ment stated that-

Whether the Aadhaar vi­o­lates the right of pri­vacy and hu­man dig­nity both of which are part of Ar­ti­cle 21 of the Con­sti­tu­tion, should be dealt by the con­sti­tu­tional bench and the Court de­lib­er­ately re­frained from en­ter­ing the said arena. Sec­tion 139AA of the In­come Tax has passed the muster of Ar­ti­cles 14 and 19(1)(g) of the Con­sti­tu­tion. How­ever, more strin­gent test as to whether this statu­tory pro­vi­sion vi­o­lates Ar­ti­cle 21 or not is yet to be qual­i­fied. There­fore, the Court made it clear that Con­sti­tu­tional va­lid­ity of this pro­vi­sion is up­held sub­ject to the out­come of batch of pe­ti­tions re­ferred to the Con­sti­tu­tion Bench where the said is­sue is to be ex­am­ined.

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