HC permits petitioner to file tax returns sans Aadhaar number

The Kerala High Court on Friday issued an interim order allowing a petitioner to file his income tax returns without furnishing his Aadhaar number, perhaps paving the way for more such cases across the country.

The court directed the income tax authorities to allow Prasanth Sugathan, a lawyer, to file I-T returns through manual filing mode without the Aadhaar number or the enrolment number, pending disposal of a petition filed by him.

An officer of Central Board of Direct Taxes told The Times of India the CBDT will study the order to assess its impact.

The petition said though the lawyer is a regular income tax payee and has consistently filed I-T returns, he has not enrolled for the Aadhaar scheme as he considers it to be a violation of his fundamental right to privacy.

The lawyer pointed out that the enrolment in the scheme was voluntary as per an interim order issued by the Supreme Court in a case over alleged violation of right to privacy through mandatory implementation of Aadhaar.

An amendment made to Finance Act 2017, making it mandatory to quote Aadhaar number in I-T returns, was then challenged before the apex court.

While disposing of the case, the apex court had granted a partial stay granting exemption to those who have not enrolled for the Aadhaar scheme, the petition said.

Sugathan alleged that in spite of the directions issued by SC, and the fact that the issue is being considered by its constitution bench, income tax authorities are not accepting I-T returns that have not quoted the Aadhaar number.

He said even though the court's interim order in his case is not general in nature, people in a similar identical situation would now be able to approach the court and obtain a similar order citing the order issued in his case.