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Advocate Shyam Divan makes case against govt rule making Aadhaar must to file tax returns

LiveMint logoLiveMint 28-04-2017 Apurva Vishwanath

New Delhi: Senior advocate Shyam Divan on Friday cited the right of “informational self-determination” to make a case against a government rule making the Aadhaar number mandatory for filing tax returns.

“An individual must be allowed to determine what information of his can be allowed to be put out and this is closely tied to a person’s right to dignity,” Divan said, explaining a proposition developed by the Federal Constitutional Court of Germany in a ruling relating to personal information collected during that country’s 1983 census.

A Supreme Court bench comprising justices A.K. Sikri and Ashok Bhushan is hearing three pleas challenging the government’s decision to make Aadhaar mandatory for filing income tax returns (ITRs) as well as for obtaining and retaining PAN (permanent account number).

Senior Communist Party of India leader Binoy Vishwam, Dalit rights activist Bezwada Wilson, and retired army officer S.G. Vombatkere had moved the court.

Divan also said that the government’s move is violative of a citizen’s tight to free speech. “Making linking of Aadhaar with PAN mandatory is like compelling a person to speak. Coercion to speak by sharing my personal details is violative of freedom of speech and expression.”

On 2 May, the government’s top law officer, attorney general Mukul Rohatgi is expected to defend the amendment to the income tax law.

According to the provisions of Finance Act 2017, the Aadhaar number or Aadhaar enrolment number will be mandatory to file income-tax returns and to apply for a new PAN. Further, an existing PAN can be declared void if the taxpayer does not link it with Aadhaar within the period that will be notified by the government.

The government on Wednesday clarified to the apex court that PAN will not be invalidated retrospectively for not being linked with Aadhaar.

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