The Madras High Court, on Tuesday, permitted a Petitioner to file her income tax returns manually without quoting Aadhaar number or Aadhaar enrolment ID, paving the way for more such Petitions to be filed all across the country.
The interim order was issued by Justice T.S. Sivagnanam on a Petition filed by Ms. Preeti Mohan, through Advocate Suhrith Parthasarathy. She had relied on the Supreme Court decision in the case of Binoy Viswam v. Union of India, wherein the Apex Court had imposed a partial stay on Section 139AA of Income Tax Act, which made linkage of IT returns with Aadhaar mandatory. This had been done in view of the fact that the provision is still to be tested on the touchstone of Article 21 of the Constitution of India.
Ms. Mohan had, therefore, contended, "...these directions issued by the Supreme Court further make clear that the Aadhaar scheme was always meant to be voluntary. To now constrain assesses to enrol under the Aadhaar Act, by applying Section 139AA of the Income Tax Act, despite the grant of partial stay by the Supreme Court, the Respondents are acting in a manner directly opposed to the Supreme Court’s various directions."
During the hearing, the Court took note of a similar Petition filed before Kerala High Court, wherein the Petitioner had been allowed to file his income tax returns manually, without quoting his Aadhaar number.
It then observed, "I am inclined to grant a similar relief, since today being the last date for filing the income tax returns. If the income tax returns are filed belatedly and if, ultimately, the matter is decided by the Constitution Bench of the Hon'ble Supreme Court against the Petitioner, then she may be liable for payment of interest for belated payment of tax. "
Thereafter, opining that the balance of convenience was in favor of the Petitioner, Justice Sivagnanam directed, "Accordingly, there will be an interim direction to the third respondent to permit the petitioner to file her income tax returns for the assessment year 2017-18 either manually or through appropriate e-filing facility without insisting for the aadhar number and/or enrolment ID Notice to the respondents is accepted by Mr. Navin Durai Babu, learned Standing Counsel for the Revenue."