When I opposed Aadhaar in 2010 , I was called a BJP stooge. In 2016 I am still opposing Aadhaar for the same reasons and I am told I am a Congress die hard. No one wants to see why I oppose Aadhaar as it is too difficult. Plus Aadhaar is FREE so why not get one ? Ram Krishnaswamy

First they ignore you, then they laugh at you, then they fight you, then you win. -Mahatma Gandhi

In matters of conscience, the law of the majority has no place. Mahatma Gandhi

“The invasion of privacy is of no consequence because privacy is not a fundamental right and has no meaning under Article 21. The right to privacy is not a guaranteed under the constitution, because privacy is not a fundamental right.” Article 21 of the Indian constitution refers to the right to life and liberty -Attorney General Mukul Rohatgi

“There is merit in the complaints. You are unwittingly allowing snooping, harassment and commercial exploitation. The information about an individual obtained by the UIDAI while issuing an Aadhaar card shall not be used for any other purpose, save as above, except as may be directed by a court for the purpose of criminal investigation.” -A three judge bench headed by Justice J Chelameswar said in an interim order.

Legal scholar Usha Ramanathan describes UID as an inverse of sunshine laws like the Right to Information. While the RTI makes the state transparent to the citizen, the UID does the inverse: it makes the citizen transparent to the state, she says.

Good idea gone bad
I have written earlier that UID/Aadhaar was a poorly designed, unreliable and expensive solution to the really good idea of providing national identification for over a billion Indians. My petition contends that UID in its current form violates the right to privacy of a citizen, guaranteed under Article 21 of the Constitution. This is because sensitive biometric and demographic information of citizens are with enrolment agencies, registrars and sub-registrars who have no legal liability for any misuse of this data. This petition has opened up the larger discussion on privacy rights for Indians. The current Article 21 interpretation by the Supreme Court was done decades ago, before the advent of internet and today’s technology and all the new privacy challenges that have arisen as a consequence.
Rajeev Chandrasekhar, MP Rajya Sabha

“What is Aadhaar? There is enormous confusion. That Aadhaar will identify people who are entitled for subsidy. No. Aadhaar doesn’t determine who is eligible and who isn’t,” Jairam Ramesh

But Aadhaar has been mythologised during the previous government by its creators into some technology super force that will transform governance in a miraculous manner. I even read an article recently that compared Aadhaar to some revolution and quoted a 1930s historian, Will Durant. Rajeev Chandrasekhar, Rajya Sabha MP

“I know you will say that it is not mandatory. But, it is compulsorily mandatorily voluntary,” Jairam Ramesh, Rajya Saba April 2017


Here is what the Parliament Standing Committee on Finance, which examined the draft N I A Bill said.

1. There is no feasibility study of the project]

2. The project was approved in haste

3. The system has far-reaching consequences for national security

4. The project is directionless with no clarity of purpose

5. It is built on unreliable and untested technology

6. The exercise becomes futile in case the project does not continue beyond the present number of 200 million enrolments

7. There is lack of coordination and difference of views between various departments and ministries of government on the project


What was said before the elections:

NPR & UID aiding Aliens – Narendra Modi

"I don't agree to Nandan Nilekeni and his madcap (UID) scheme which he is trying to promote," Senior BJP Leader Yashwant Sinha, Sept 2012

"All we have to show for the hundreds of thousands of crore spent on Aadhar is a Congress ticket for Nilekani" Yashwant Sinha.(27/02/2014)

TV Mohandas Pai, former chief financial officer and head of human resources, tweeted: "selling his soul for power; made his money in the company wedded to meritocracy." Money Life Article

Nilekani’s reporting structure is unprecedented in history; he reports directly to the Prime Minister, thus bypassing all checks and balances in government - Home Minister Chidambaram

To refer to Aadhaar as an anti corruption tool despite overwhelming evidence to the contrary is mystifying. That it is now officially a Rs.50,000 Crores solution searching for an explanation is also without any doubt. -- Statement by Rajeev Chandrasekhar, MP & Member, Standing Committee on Finance

Finance minister P Chidambaram’s statement, in an exit interview to this newspaper, that Aadhaar needs to be re-thought completely is probably the last nail in its coffin. :-) Financial Express

The Rural Development Ministry headed by Jairam Ramesh created a road Block and refused to make Aadhaar mandatory for making wage payment to people enrolled under the world’s largest social security scheme NRGA unless all residents are covered.

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Friday, April 21, 2017

11083 - Mandatory Aadhaar in tax returns: problem or solution? - Live Mint

Wed, Apr 19 2017. 05 28 PM IST

There are easier ways to weed out duplicate PANs than to force everyone to link Aadhaar to their PAN

                               Pradeep Gaur/Mint

Recently, when Budget 2017 was passed, a new provision was inserted in the tax laws, making the quoting of Aadhaar number mandatory in application form for Permanent Account Number (PAN) as well as in the return of income with effect from 1 July 2017. The objective, as clarified by the finance minister, is to link PAN with Aadhaar, and identify persons who avoid taxes by having duplicate PANs. While the objective is laudable, what are the likely problems for taxpayers? 

The provision requires every person having a PAN, who is eligible to obtain Aadhaar number, to intimate the latter to a prescribed authority in a prescribed form before a notified date. If he does not do so, the PAN will be treated as invalid, and as if it had never been applied for. Power is given to notify persons, classes of persons or any state to which these provisions will not apply. 

What does this mean? From what date would the PAN become invalid? Does it mean that such a taxpayer would no longer be able to file income tax returns? Does this mean that his income tax returns furnished till that date would be invalid? Does it mean that any returns filed but not processed would thereafter not be processed? Are there any extenuating circumstances, such as where a person is out of India during that period, or where a person is hospitalized, where a delay would be permissible? Can a power of attorney holder sign on behalf of the taxpayer? 

There are many very senior citizens, who have been unable to obtain an Aadhaar number, because their fingerprints are no longer legible. What happens to such persons? Should there not be a remedy available to them to directly approach Unique Identification Authority of India (UIDAI) to allot them an Aadhaar number? Does their PAN become invalid for no fault of theirs, other than old age? 

A non-resident should not be affected, since only residents of India are eligible to obtain an Aadhaar number. In practice, one wonders whether the tax authorities will factor this into their system and procedures, and not create problems for such persons. What happens when a non-resident, who was not required to obtain Aadhaar, becomes a resident? What if he is a foreign citizen? Would he face difficulties in getting an Aadhaar number? By when does he have to obtain an Aadhaar number? Which concept of residence applies for eligibility for Aadhaar—the concept of residence under tax laws, or the concept of residence under the exchange control laws (Foreign Exchange Management Act)? 

Almost all courts have taken the view that the status of a Trust for the purposes of tax laws is that of an individual. A Trust obviously cannot obtain an Aadhaar number, since only a natural individual can do so. Will the tax authorities take cognizance of this, and not cancel the PAN obtained by Trusts? 
One only hopes that all such situations are factored in by the government while notifying the exemptions: that a sufficiently long time is given for providing Aadhaar number, that provisions are made for exceptions, and that the difficulty in obtaining Aadhaar in certain types of cases is eliminated. 

What are the consequences of a PAN being treated as invalid? There are severe consequences. Tax will be deducted at source at 20% from income as against the normal lower applicable rate; and the person will not be able to file his return of income, which will invite consequent penalty and possible prosecution. He will not be able to acquire or sell property or a motor car, open a bank or demat account, purchase mutual fund units or debentures or bonds exceeding Rs50,000, or pay life insurance premium exceeding Rs50,000 without furnishing Form No. 60, since PAN is mandatory for all such transactions. 

Should such severe consequences be invited on a person, just because the income tax department bungled in allotting PANs in the initial years? Many persons applied for a PAN, as required by the law, and were duly allotted one. The tax department, on its own accord, allotted further PANs to them. In most cases, taxpayers did not even know that more than one PAN had been allotted to them. Many taxpayers, who are trying to cancel their duplicate PANs, are unable to do so, because the Tax Information Network centres refuse to accept the applications, insisting on some impossible documents. Should not the process of cancellation of a duplicate PAN be made easier, rather than further harass the taxpayers? 

Besides, one hears the finance minister and the tax department lamenting about how very few taxpayers are currently filing their income tax returns. Would this not result in even more taxpayers unable to file their tax returns? Does the government want to increase tax compliance, or create more obstacles? The solution to weeding out duplicate PANs was perhaps far simpler. Just use a software that matches various details in a database to identify duplicates, follow up on these, and cancel the duplicate PANs after correspondence with the taxpayers. 

This would, however, require effort from the tax department. It is obvious that the tax authorities prefer not to take that effort, even if it results in harassment and huge problems for taxpayers.

Gautam Nayak is a chartered accountant.