Binoy Viswam vs Union of India - Supreme Court Judgment
Binoy Viswam vs Union of India - Supreme Court Important Judgment 2017 -
On 9th June, 2017, in the case of Binoy Viswam v. Union of India & Ors. [Writ Petition (Civil) No.247 of 2017], the Supreme Court examined the constitutional validity of Section 139AA of Income Tax Act, 1961 (a provision inserted by amendment to the said Act vide Finance Act, 2017). The effect of this provision is that every person who desires to obtain PAN card or who is an assessee has to necessarily enrol for Aadhaar. It makes obtaining of Aadhaar card compulsory for those persons who are income-tax assessees. Proviso to sub-section (2) of Section 139AA of the Act stipulates the consequences of failure to intimate the Aadhaar number. Challenge was made to this compulsive nature of provision inasmuch as with the introduction of the aforesaid provision, no discretion was left with the income-tax assessees insofar as enrolment under the Aadhaar (Targeting Delivery of Financial and Other Subsidies, Benefits and Services) Act, 2016 is concerned. According to the petitioners, though Aadhaar Act prescribes that enrolment under the said Act is voluntary and gives choice to a person to enrol or not to enrol himself and obtain Aadhaar card, this compulsive element thrusted in Section 139AA of the Act makes the said provision unconstitutional.
It was held that “the Parliament was fully competent to enact Section 139AA of the Act and its authority to make this law was not diluted by the orders of this Court” and there is no “conflict between the provisions of Aadhaar Act and Section 139AA of the Income Tax Act inasmuch as when interpreted harmoniously, they operate in distinct fields.” It was further held that “Section 139AA of the Act is not discriminatory nor it offends equality clause enshrined in Article 14 of the Constitution” “Section 139AA is also not violative of Article 19(1)(g) of the Constitution insofar as it mandates giving of Aadhaar enrollment number for applying PAN cards in the income tax returns or notified Aadhaar enrollment number to the designated authorities. Further, proviso to subsection (2) thereof has to be read down to mean that it would operate only prospective.”
The Bench further held that “the validity of the provision upheld in the aforesaid manner is subject to passing the muster of Article 21 of the Constitution, which is the issue before the Constitution Bench in Writ Petition (Civil) No. 494 of 2012 and other connected matters. Till then, there shall remain a partial stay on the operation of proviso to sub-section (2) of Section 139AA of the Act.”