New Delhi, April 4, 2017

The constitutional validity of the recent law passed by Parliament making it mandatory for citizens to link their Aadhaar cards with PAN card for filing income tax returns from the 2017-18 assessment year has come under challenge before the Supreme Court.

Binoy Viswam, an executive member of CPIL and former Kerala MLA, filed a petition through advocate Sriram Parakkat questioning the introduction of the new provision in the IT Act to link Aadhaar card with PAN card.

The petitioner said that till now he did not have an Aadhaar card on the legitimate expectation that the said scheme “was not mandatory” in view of the SC’s orders.

Due to the introduction of Section 139AA of the Income Tax Act, 1961, he is now being forced to obtain an Aadhaar card.

This, he argued, was in complete violation of the right to privacy. Non-enrolment of Aadhaar by July 2017 would render the defaulting individual’s PAN invalid under the new law.

The petition is likely to come up for hearing soon. However, it is unlikely that the court will pass any immediate orders. It might tag the petition with other pending cases in which the validity of the notification backing Aadhaar has been challenged on the ground that it violates the right to privacy.

A special bench to adjudicate whether fundamental right enshrined under the Constitution includes right to privacy is yet to be set up.

Last week, Chief Justice JS Khehar had ruled out an early hearing of the clutch of petitions.

Recalling the earlier court order, Viswam said the top court had maintained that Aadhaar should be voluntary and no benefits can be denied for want of it. The scheme itself, he contended, was voluntary and the card is to be obtained only on the consent of the individual.

By virtue of the aforesaid provision, he and other citizens had refrained from enrolling in the Aadhaar scheme and also due to the prevailing apprehensions regarding the infringement of the right to privacy.

[The Hindustan Times]