Published: Thu, May 04, 2017
Economy | By Melissa Porter

Linking Aadhaar with PAN needed to curb multiple PAN cards, SC told

Linking Aadhaar with PAN needed to curb multiple PAN cards, SC told

Contending that an Aadhaar-like system has not been implemented in any country which calls itself democratic, the opponents also said a person can be tracked and remain under electronic survelliance throughout his life.

Making this submission before a bench of Justices A.K. Sikri and Ashok Bhusha, Attorney-General Mukul Rohatgi said Aadhaar was very essential when the country was witnessing all round progress, especially technologically.

On the aspect of privacy, the A-G argued that citizens can not expect state to provide security, facilities and other benefits and refuse to abide by rules when the State requires them to part with their identity information to check on terror financing, black money and other illegal activities.

"Section 139AA engrafts the entire machinery and procedure used in Aadhaar Act".

Divan presented his argument a day after attorney-general Mukul Rohatgi stuck unyieldingly to the government's stance that the Aadhaar number is indeed a mandatory requirement for access to many state services and that recent leaks of Aadhaar details were no big deal. "Can petitioners say that they don't have a PAN card, no driver's licence or credit card and that they live in the Himalayas... the government is entitled to put technologies for better use", the AG contended.

The Aadhaar system involves biometric information such as blood and fingerprints stored in encrypted format, and initially, the government said it would only be voluntary.

However, he said there are safeguards for privacy under the Aadhaar Act and the authority has to ensure security and confidentiality of data.

"If we fail here, there will be a tremendous compromise of civil liberties, because the State's relationship with the individual changes", senior advocate Shyam Divan, who is representing three petitioners, argued in the apex court.

The attorney general will continue his arguments after the recess for lunch. "We can not impart on the conception of privacy prevailing in different parts of the world", it said.

The central government on Tuesday defended linking the Aadhaar number with permanent account number (PAN) and making it mandatory for filing income tax returns, telling the Supreme Court that it was meant to curb individuals possessing multiple PAN cards by putting in place a robust identification system.

"Goalposts constantly shifted on making Aadhaar mandatory".

"They can not argue contrary to what is there in the statute enacted by Parliament", he said, adding, "there are no coercive proceedings in the Aadhaar Act and there are no penalties for not obtaining Aadhaar". "People can not commit suicide and take drugs", he added. "Almost 113 crore individuals have enrolled for Aadhar as compared to 29 crore who have PAN", the AG said.

This is published unedited from the PTI feed.

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