UIDAI claims over 11.3 lakh duplicate PAN cards detected

The UIDAI on Tuesday told the Supreme Court that by linking PAN cards with Aadhaar, 11.3 lakh duplicate PAN cards have been detected. Out of 36 crore taxpayers, nearly half - more than 17.6 crore - have already linked their PAN cards with Aadhaar, it said.

It also maintained linking PAN with Aadhaar would check creation of shell companies and generation of black money.

Additional Solicitor General Tushar Mehta, appearing for UIDAI, submitted before a five-judge bench presided over by Chief Justice Dipak Misra that the apex court had allowed the Centre to link Aadhaar with PAN cards.

He said the demographic information required under Aadhaar was already being taken since 1989 under section 139A of the Income Tax Act for obtaining PAN. Left hand thumb impression was also being taken from people who cannot sign, he contended.

The bench countered that "There was no collection of biometrics and authentication at that time."

Mehta relied on the reports of SIT on black money and said that Aadhaar has helped in weeding out fake ration and PAN cards.

No enabling law

At the start of the proceedings, the bench asked the top law officer about the biometric details collected between 2010 and 2016 when there was no enabling law empowering the Unique Identification Authority of India (UIDAI) to collect personal details for Aadhaar registration.

He, in turn, cited the apex court verdicts in the M P Sharma (1950) and the Kharak Singh (1962) cases and said these had held that the right to privacy was not a fundamental right. Hence, the Centre and the UIDAI had not violated any privacy rights while collecting biometric details between 2010 and 2016, when there was no law.

"Privacy was not a fundamental right when UIDAI was collecting biometric details from the citizens," he said and added, "Between 2010 and 2016, the collection of biometric details under Aadhaar scheme was voluntary and, hence, nobody can claim that they were forced to part with personal details."

The top law officer said the judgements in the M P Sharma and the Kharak Singh cases were overruled in 2017; but the Justice Puttaswamy verdict had held the right to privacy was a fundamental right. The court, however, sought to rebut his contention, saying the question of privacy was irrelevant in those cases.

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