The government is selling Aadhaar as a Panacea for all Ills

The government is selling Aadhaar like “herbal medicine” — a panacea for all ills, from black money to terrorism to leakage, senior advocate Arvind Datar told the Supreme Court on Thursday, in his rebuttal to the Centre’s argument that the Aadhaar scheme was fool-proof and leak-proof, critics of the move to link the biometric id of individuals with their income tax account said in the Supreme Court.

The amendment makes PAN invalid if not linked to Aadhaar by July 1. On Thursday, the court reserved its judgement on the legality of this. In previous hearings, the government defended the law, rejecting claims against it over privacy concerns and terming biometric identification as a vital feature of contemporary society.

Mr. Datar cited the figure of only 0.04% of PAN cards being duplicates. He asked whether the government had done any study before introducing 139AA. “For 0.4% duplicates, 99.6% must seed their Aadhaar with PAN. Is that reasonable restriction under Article 19(6)?” Mr. Datar, assisted by advocates Sriram Parakkat and M.S. Vishnu Sankar, argued.

This is a completely unreasonable restriction on the right to trade under, he said. Also, people who haven’t linked the two won’t be able to file their returns and may face huge penalty, he added.

This was on the final day of the marathon hearings on the challenge against Section 139AA of the Income Tax Act, which mandates citizens to link Aadhaar with PAN for filing income tax returns and for the continued validity of their PAN.

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