Deadline for Aadhaar-PAN linkage to stay, says Ajay Bhushan Pandey
Tax payers will have to link their PAN with Aadhaar by the stipulated deadline, which is this month-end, as the Supreme Court verdict on privacy has no bearing on the requirement, Unique Identification Authority of India (UIDAI) CEO Ajay Bhushan Pandey said today.
The requirement for Aadhaar being quoted for availing government subsidies, welfare schemes and other benefits will also continue unhindered for now, he said.
The government had mandated linking of PAN with Aadhaar by the extended deadline of August 31.
Asked about the implication of the Supreme Court ruling (privacy being a fundamental right) on linking of Aadhaar and PAN, Mr. Pandey said: “There also, linking of PAN to Aadhaar is mandated by an amendment in income tax act…the linking will continue under that act and law. There is no change“.
Mr. Pandey said various deadlines that have been prescribed, be it under provision of Aadhaar Act, Income Tax Act or money laundering rules will “have to be adhered to” as “those laws are valid”.
He exuded confidence that Aadhaar Act, with its data protection safeguards, will pass the test of privacy being a fundamental right.
The biometric identifier is currently required for services ranging from getting subsidised cooking gas to opening bank account and obtaining a new phone number.
The Supreme Court “judgement has not said anything about the Aadhaar Act so the Aadhaar Act is a valid Act passed by the Parliament (and) is the law of the land”, Mr. Pandey said.
Section 7 of the act “prescribes that for getting certain subsidy or benefit the government can insist on an Aadhaar number. That position holds today,” he added.
Mr. Pandey’s clarification assumes significance in the light of a landmark verdict by the Supreme Court on Thursday that privacy is a fundamental right and an intrinsic part of Right to Life and Personal Liberty.
Several experts have said that the judgement will have a bearing on data collection and storage guidelines followed by various agencies, including in large projects like Aadhaar.
Asked if anyone can refuse to give their details in the backdrop of SC order, Pandey said: “As of today, no. Because Aadhaar Act is a valid Act and this judgement has not commented anything on Aadhaar Act.”
Mr. Pandey said Aadhaar enrolment will continue unhindered.
The UIDAI CEO added that Aadhaar Act protects privacy of people as a fundamental right and its provisions provide for safeguarding of personal data and how such data can be used.
“The data will not be shared without the consent of the person. So there are number of privacy protection provisions inbuilt into the Aadhaar Act itself,” he said.
He noted that core biometric can never be shared with anyone for any reason whatsoever, except in circumstances such as national security, and such cases too have to be cleared by a committee headed by cabinet secretary.
“There is a use limitation, sharing limitation, purpose limitation…all these limitations and restrictions are inbuilt into the Aadhaar Act itself,” he added.