The Supreme Court on Friday asked the Centre how could they make Aadhaar Card mandatory when it had passed an order saying that it is optional. "To prevent this, the only option is to make Aadhaar card mandatory", Attorney General Mukul Rohatgi told the Supreme Court bench.
The bench then said: "Is this the remedy, that you need to have Aadhaar for having PAN?"
On March 27, the SC had stated that Aadhaar cards can not be made mandatory by the government for providing benefits of social welfare schemes.
The apex court said it will hear the plea challenging the government's move on 25 April.
The court had in August 2015 said Aadhaar number would not be mandatory for availing benefits of government's welfare schemes.
"Is making Aadhaar by force the only way to tackle fraud?" the bench asked.
"There is a legislative mandate now". Rohatgi argued that fake PANs and ration cards have flooded the market and jinxed financial transactions.
Last month, the central government proposed that Aadhaar number will be necessary for filing returns and Permanent Account Number (PAN) applications from July 1, 2017.
Meanwhile, senior counsel Arvind Datar, appearing for the Communist Party of India leader, told the court that the effect of the linkage was those the Pan card of those who didn't have an Aadhaar number becomes invalid. There was also constant mismatch of individual details in the two cards. The PAN number is a unique, 10-character alphanumeric identifier, issued to all judicial entities identifiable under the Indian Income Tax Act, 1961. The Centre's argument has been that the earlier order merely applies for beneficiary schemes like LPG and food grains and the government is free to use it for other services like income tax.
The Bench fixed a hearing in the matter on Tuesday to examine its constitutional validity.
On March 27, the apex court had clarified that the government can not insist on the production of Aadhaar cards to provide citizens with the benefits of social welfare programmes such as pensions, provident fund, school midday meals and the rural job guarantee scheme.