The Supreme Court said today that it was “alive” to its earlier orders that had mandated that Aadhaar should be voluntary and not compulsory. A bench comprising Justices A K Sikri and Ashok Bhushan said, “We are alive to the orders passed by this court which says it should be voluntary.” The statement was made while hearing petitions that have challenged the constitutional validity of section 139AA of the Income Tax (IT) Act. This Act was introduced during the latest budget and under the Finance Act 2017. As per Section 139AA of IT Act, it has now become mandatory to mention Aadhaar number or Aadhaar enrollment number for filing income tax returns. The Aadhaar details are also needed for allotment of PAN numbers. All these rules will become effective from July 1.
The legal representative for the petitioners Shyam Divan said that section 139AA was unconstitutional. “The entire Aadhaar Act is voluntary. It creates a right in favor of citizens. It does not create a duty. The Act is entirely voluntary. How can they make it mandatory under the Income Tax Act? The scheme under the Aadhaar Act is in direct collision with the provision of section 139AA,” he said.
Responding to the petitions, the Supreme Court said that it will constitute a larger bench to look into these matters.