Quoting Aadhaar Mandatory for Filing Income Tax Returns and PAN Application: Supreme Court [Read Judgment]

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The Constitution bench of the Supreme Court has upheld the Constitutional Validity of Section 139AA of the Income Tax Act, 1961 which mandated quoting of Aadhaar or enrolment ID of Aadhaar application form for filing of income tax returns and making application for allotment of PAN.

Section 139AA  was incorporated to the Income Tax Act  vide Finance Act, 2017 requiring mandatory quoting of Aadhaar or enrolment ID of Aadhaar application form for filing of income tax returns and making application for allotment of PAN (Permanent Account Number).

In the 1448 page Judgment was delivered by five Judge bench comprising of Chief Justice Dipak Misra, Justice Kurian Joseph, Justice R F Nariman, Justice S K Kaul and Justice Indu Malhotra.

A number of petitions were filed before the Top-Court challenging the vires of the above provision. The petitioners, including Kerala Ex-Minister and CPI Leader Binoy Viswam.

The Majority Judgment observed that, “On the independent examination of the matter, the aforesaid exercise undertaken in the Binoy Viswam is hereby affirmed as we are in agreement therewith. We, thus, hold that the provisions of Section 139AA of the Income Tax Act, 1961 meet the triple test of right to privacy, contained in K.S. Puttaswamy”.

“Validity of this provision was upheld in the case of Binoy Viswam by repelling the contentions based on Articles 14 and 19 of the Constitution. The question of privacy which, at that time, was traced to Article 21, was left open. The matter is reexamined on the touchstone of principles laid down in K.S. Puttaswamy. The matter has also been examined keeping in view that manifest arbitrariness is also a ground of challenge to the legislative enactment. Even after judging the matter in the context of permissible limits for invasion of privacy, namely: (i) the existence of a law; (ii) a ‘legitimate State interest’; and (iii) such law should pass the ‘test of proportionality’, we come to the conclusion that all these tests are satisfied. In fact, there is specific discussion on these aspects in Binoy Viswam’s case as well”, the Court also said.

Dissenting the Majority Judgment, Justice D.Y Chandrachud struck down the Section 139AA of the Income Tax Act, 1961.

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