New Delhi: The Supreme Court on Friday said that it will hear arguments on the plea challenging the government's move to make Aadhaar mandatory for procuring Permanent Account Number (PAN) cards on April 25.
The SC asked the government to justify the need for making Aadhaar card mandatory.
“How can you make Aadhaar card mandatory when we have passed an order to make it optional,” asked a bench of Justice AK Sikri and Justice Ashok Bhushan.
Responding to this, Attorney General Mukul Rohatgi said that they have found that people were giving details of PAN cards which have been procured on the basis of fake documents.
Rohatgi said there were instances that one person was having a number of PAN cards and these fake cards were being used to divert funds to shell companies.
“We found a number of PAN cards being used to divert funds to shell companies. To prevent it, the only option is to make Aadhaar card mandatory,” said Rohatgi.
To this, the bench asked the Attorney General, "Is this the remedy that you need to have Aadhaar for having PAN? Why has it been made mandatory?"
Responding to this, Rohatgi said that earlier too they have found people procuring SIM cards for mobile phones on fake identity cards and the apex court had asked the government to have a check on it.
Senior counsel Shyam Divan and Arvind Datar, appearing for the petitioners, including a former judge of Karnataka High Court, said it was extremely difficult to follow the rule as many people did not have an Aadhaar card.
There was also a constant mismatch of individual details in the two identity cards.
On March 22, Finance Minister Arun Jaitley had announced that Aadhaar may become the only identity (ID) card in future while making it mandatory for the filing of Income Tax returns is necessary to curb tax evasion and frauds.
The Supreme Court had on March 27 made it clear that the unique identification number - Aadhaar - can't be made mandatory for availing benefits under social welfare schemes.
A bench of Chief Justice Jagdish Singh Khehar, Justice DY Chandrachud and Justice Sanjay Kishan Kaul had, however, said Aadhaar could be required for other schemes.
An August 11, 2015, apex court order had limited the use of Aadhaar number for getting foodgrain and kerosene under PDS and LPG. This order was modified on October 01, 2015, to permit the use of Aadhaar card for MNREGA, old age pension scheme, provident fund, and Prime Minister's Jan Dhan Yojana.