New Delhi (Sputnik) — Commonly referred to as Aadhaar, the Unique Identification Authority of India (UIDAI) cards contain biometric information such as blood type and fingerprints that are stored in encrypted format. Launched by Narendra Modi's predecessor the Dr. Manmohan Singh-led Congress government to improve the delivery of government services, the current Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) dispensation has pushed it to new heights. Now, almost all major government services involving financial transactions need the feeding of Aadhar numbers.
"Today, you have black money which is being used in drug financing and terror financing. So it was decided to bring in a more robust system by which identity of a person cannot be faked," PTI quoted Attorney General Mukul Rohatgi telling a bench comprising Justices A K Sikri and Ashok Bhushan.
The top court is hearing three pleas challenging the government's decision to make Aadhaar mandatory for filing income tax returns as well as for obtaining and retaining PAN. Rohatgi cited data from the income tax department which has canceled about one million fake PAN cards out of nearly three million card holders.
In contrast, the government has already issued over 1.13 billion Aadhar cards and not found any cases of duplication or multiplicity of cards. Rohatgi described the biometric system used to create these unique number based cards "foolproof". The government has also saved over $7.8 billion on the benefit schemes for the poor and other benefits where pilferage and leakage are a common concern, said Rohatgi.
But journalists, activists and other members of civil society, including MPs, don't agree with the government's stand and question the policy to make Aadhar mandatory for income tax returns and other services.
Arguments put forth by govt to mandatorily impose Aadhaar & subvert every Indian's fundamental right to liberty are devious and irrelevant.— Sitaram Yechury (@SitaramYechury) May 3, 2017
Some are under the mistaken impression that the Constitution grants absolute power to the Govt over citizens. https://t.co/YP2GIR01X5— Saikat Datta (@saikatd) May 3, 2017
Govt loves anonymous political funding by corporates, bulldozes UID/Aadhaar down the throats of Indians who demand transparency. @no2uid— Gopal Krishna (@krishna1715) May 3, 2017
According to the provisions of Finance Act 2017, the Aadhaar number or Aadhaar enrolment number will be mandatory to file 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.