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Attorney General assures top court that Aadhaar-related benefits for welfare schemes will be extended to Dec. 31

With the privacy matter related to Aadhaar already settled by the Supreme Court, three other matters related to Aadhaar remain to be adjudicated. These are likely to be listed in the first week of November, the apex court decided on Wednesday (August 30).

The matters were mentioned before Chief Justice of India (CJI) Dipak Misra by Attorney General KK Venugopal and senior advocate Shyam Divan.

On behalf of the government, Venugopal assured the CJI that Aadhaar-related benefits for welfare schemes will be extended to December 31.

The matters pertaining to Aadhaar that remain to be adjudicated are the following:

Aadhaar for social welfare schemes

[Shantha Sinha & Anr. v. Union of India (W.P. (C) 342/2017)]

Petition against notifications for making Aadhaar mandatory, taken up by the SC on May 19, 2017. Divan, representing the petitioner, asked for an interim stay on the June 30 deadline for making Aadhaar mandatory, but the court did not and listed all interim relief matters for June 27, 2017. The matter is pending.

PAN card and Income Tax (Section 139AA)

[2 cases: Binoy Visman v. Union of India (WP(C) 247/2017) and S.G. Vombatkere & Anr. v. Union of India (W.P.(C) 277/2017)]

Senior advocate Arvind Datar is representing the petitioner in Binoy Visman, while Divan is representing the petitioner in Vombatkere. This petition, of April 13, 2017, challenges Section 139AA of the Income Tax Act, 1961 introduced by the Finance Act, 2017.

As per the section, linking Aadhaar with PAN has been made mandatory. This is, thus, also mandatory for income tax returns.

Divan had made his case here with reference to Article 14 (equality before law) and Article 19(g) (part of fundamental rights giving rights to individuals to practice free trade and profession) of the constitution. His argument focused on the altered “relationship of Republic of India with its citizens”. He said that providing proof of identification and address to private parties (Non-government) is a violation of rights. He said that forcing individuals to reveal personal information to a third party is a violation of Article 19(g).

Divan’s arguments will now be meatier, with the Supreme Court having already decided that privacy is a fundamental right.

Aadhaar Act passed as a Money Bill

[Jairam Ramesh v. Union of India (W.P.(C) 231/2016)]

The Aadhaar Act, 2016 was allowed passage as a money bill in March 2016 by Lok Sabha Speaker Sumitra Mahajan. She was technically right in doing so, because Article 110 (3) of the constitution allows the Speaker to have the final say. The Opposition protested and former Union minister Jairam Ramesh filed a PIL against the government passing the Act as a money bill without consulting the Rajya Sabha.

India Legal Bureau

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