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What’s happening in the Aadhaar case now?

LiveMint logoLiveMint 27-04-2017 Apurva Vishwanath

New Delhi: On Wednesday morning, senior advocate Shyam Divan, arguing for one of the petitioners, read out a list all the Aadhaar Act breaches and data leaks.

A Supreme Court bench comprising justices A.K. Sikri and Ashok Bhushan are 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). Binoy Vishwam, senior Communist Party of India leader; Bezwada Wilson, a Dalit rights activist; and S.G. Vombatkere, a retired Army officer had moved the court.

On Tuesday, the government’s top law officer, attorney general Mukul Rohatgi, presented the government’s side of the argument.

Divan’s main arguments this morning were as follows:

* The petitioners are conscientious opposers of Aadhaar and since the system is so porous, we are not willing to part with our fingerprints.

* My fingerprints, iris are part of my physical body. This is not an issue of privacy. Privacy is violated when Aadhaar is misused and that is a potential threat but right now this is an attack on my physical self.

* The Aadhaar Act itself says that it is purely voluntary. A resident can get an Aadhaar as a right he is entitled to. There is no duty cast upon him to obtain an Aadhaar.

Paying taxes is a duty. Getting Aadhaar is a right. The two statutes cannot be weld together.

* The Aadhaar Act itself envisages free consent. The state cannot ask for my physical body unless a) with the citizen’s consent b) in limited circumstances where the state has a vested​ interest.

Like for a passport or identity of a prisoner.

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.

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