HC rejects plea to file I-T returns sans Aadhaar, quotes SC ruling

The Madras High Court has said that Aadhaar number is necessary to file income tax returns and dismissed a plea seeking exemption from providing the number.

The ruling came a week after the same court allowed a woman to file her I-T returns without mentioning her Aadhaar number.

The court On Tuesday dismissed a petition by one Thiagarajan Kumararaja, which sought a direction to the Income Tax Officer, Chennai to grant him permission to file his income tax returns for assessment year 2017-18 either manually or through appropriate e-mail facility without insisting on his Aadhaar number or enrolment ID.

Justice T S Sivagnanam said a reading of the judgment of the Supreme Court in the Binoy Viswam case would clearly show that the apex court has not stayed the proviso to Sub-section (2) of Section 139AA of the Income Tax Act and the partial stay would be applicable only to facilitate the other transactions which are mentioned in Rule 114B of the Income Tax Rules, which pertains to transactions in relation to which PAN is to be quoted.

The order comes a week after the same judge allowed a woman, Preethi Mohan, to file her I-T returns without quoting the Aadhaar number or Aadhaar enrolment number.

The woman's counsel had move the court relying on a Supreme Court ruling in a case in which it had imposed a partial stay on the operation of Section 139AA of the Income Tax Act, which mandates linkage of Aadhaar with I-T returns.

The judge said it has also been held that the purpose behind the Income Tax Act, 1961 is to curb black money, money laundering and tax evasion, among others.

It further held that for achieving such objects if parliament chooses to make the provision mandatory under the Act, the competence of parliament cannot be questioned "on the ground that it is impermissible only because under the Aadhaar Act, the provision is a directory in nature".

The apex court also held that it is the prerogative of Parliament to make a particular provision directory in one statute and mandatory/compulsory in the other and that by itself cannot be a ground to question the competence of the legislature, the judge said.