Supreme Court raps Centre for making Aadhaar mandatory

The Supreme Court of India today questioned the Central Government for making Aadhaar Card mandatory for procuring a Permanent Account Number (PAN) card.

When the A-G said "we brought the law as we found multiple PAN cards with the same people", justice Sikri asked him, "Is this the remedy?"

He said there were instances were a person was found to be having several PAN cards and to stop such situation, it has been decided to make Aadhaar mandatory while applying for PAN.

To these question centre replied to the Supreme Court saying, "We have legislative backing to make Aadhar mandatory".

Late last month, the SC did say the government wouldn't be wrong to make Aadhaar mandatory for opening bank accounts+, getting mobile connections and getting passports.

Section 139AA states, "Every person who is eligible to obtain Aadhaar number shall, on or after July 1, 2017 quote Aadhaar number in the application form for allotment of PAN, in the return of income". On October 10, 2015, the government had moved the top court seeking permission to use the ID for a few schemes, but the court had reiterated its stand and said that its use must be "purely voluntary".

"Is making Aadhaar by force the only way to tackle fraud?" the bench asked.

The apex court had on March 27 made it clear that Aadhaar cards can not be made mandatory by the government for extending benefits of social welfare schemes. This would create huge difficulties.

The court was making the observations while hearing a PIL filed against the government's decision of making Aadhaar compulsary.

It had, however, said that Centre can not be barred from seeking Aadhaar cards, which are issued by UIDAI, for "non- benefit" purposes like filing of IT returns and opening of bank accounts.

According to Viswam, he did not have an Aadhaar number as it was not mandatory in view of the top Court's orders which said it was not mandatory as well as provisions of the Aadhaar Act.

The petitioner said he did not hold an Aadhaar card on the legitimate expectation that the said scheme was not mandatory in view of the orders of the court. Pan card or welfare benefits did not feature in this list.

  • Todd Kelly