On 4 May 2017, the bench comprising of J. A.K. Sikri and J. Ashok Bhushan reserved the order on the pleas by:
- senior Communist Party of India (CPI) leader Binoy Visman,
- former Major General of Indian Army S.G. Vombatkere and
- Convenor of Safai Karamchari Andolan Bezwada Wilson,
who had challenged the validity of Section 139AA. The Supreme Court will pronounce its judgement on 9th June 2017 on the matter by a 5 judge bench.
What is Section 139AA of the Income Tax Act:
Section 139AA of the Income Tax Act provides for mandatory quoting of r enrollment ID of Aadhaar or Aadhaar application form for:
- filing of income tax returns and
- making application for allotment of PAN (Permanent Account Number).
This will come to effect from July 1 this year.
While opposing, the government’s move, the petitioners, including Viswam, have contended before the bench that the Centre cannot “belittle” the apex courts 2015 order holding the unique identification number as voluntary.
Further, Attorney General Mukul Rohatgi had told the bench that the programme of PAN had become suspect as it could be faked, while Aadhaar is a “secure and robust” system could not be faked.
The petitioners argued that the government had an agenda to push Aadhaar and pointed to the dichotomy between Aadhaar Act, 2016. It makes possessing Aadhaar optional and the Section 139AA of the Income Tax Act that makes its linking with PAN compulsory, and also this will have extremely far-reaching consequences not only for individuals but small businesses too.
Does linking Aadhaar-PAN violates Article 21?
During the hearing, the Supreme Court was of the view that it was yet to be “tested” whether protection of life and personal liberty granted under Article 21 of the Constitution is violated by the Aadhaar.