The Bombay High Court on Friday granted interim relief to a group of 25 taxpayers who had filed a petition challenging the insistence of the Revenue Department to link their PAN card with their Aadhaar card in order to file tax returns.
A bench of Justice MS Sanklecha and Justice SK Shinde first heard the petition on June 21. Petitioners had sought directions to the Central Board of Direct Taxes and Income Tax Department to accept income tax returns filed by them without insisting on linkage of Aadhaar with PAN card.
Senior counsel Mihir Desai was appearing for the petitioners at first, then Senior Counsel Sanjay Sanghvi appeared on their behalf.
The petitioners who were a group of teachers, journalists, architects and activists, relied on two orders passed recently, one by the Delhi High Court and another by the Punjab and Haryana High Court while hearing similar petitions.
Additional Solicitor General Anil Singh appeared on behalf of the Union of India, IT Department and CBDT. He submitted that the system at CBDT does not accept IT return forms without Aadhaar card details.
Justice Sanklecha noted that the CBDT cannot insist on Aadhaar details for accepting IT returns. The court said-
“The respondent State is directed to accept the return of income for the Assessment Year 2018-19 by the petitioners herein if uploaded on or before June 30, 2018 without Aadhaar number, Aadhar Enrolment or any linkage with the PAN details. This is without prejudice to the rights and contentions of the state that such Returns of Income are contrary to the provisions of the Act.”
The court further noted:
“In case the system does not accept the Returns of Income filed by the petitioners in the absence of it quoting the Aadhaar number or Aadhaar Enrollment number or linking with PAN details, then in that event the petitioners herein are at liberty to file their return of income in physical form with the jurisdictional Assessing Officer on or before 2nd July, 2018, who would accept the same. This has become necessary as we are informed that the Income Tax Office is closed on 30th June, 2018 and 1st July, 2018.“
The court also clarified that the said relief was in the interim and was meant for the petitioners only. The matter has now been posted for hearing on July 17.