Q. What is the ongoing fuss about the Finance Bill, Pan Card and Aadhar Card?
As per the controversial Finance Bill that the Lok Sabha passed on Wednesday, Aadhar Card will be mandatory for the application of PAN Card in the future. In fact, a few source-based reports have suggested that those PAN Cards that are not linked to Aadhar will become invalid from next year.
Earlier on Wednesday, the Finance Minister had hinted that the Aadhar card may replace PAN card in the future. "A stage may come when unique identity card (Aadhaar) may become the sole card. There are many countries where such a situation exists. There is a social security number in America and in India it (Aadhaar) could be the counterpart," Arun Jaitley had said.
Q. Why is the Finance Bill controversial?
Firstly, Prime Minister Narendra Modi-led government has made 40 amendments to the Finance Bill. It can be argued that many of these amendments could have stood as independent bills that should have been discussed in the parliament. Secondly, it is a money bill. This means, technically, the government does not need the Rajya Sabha's approval. So, even if the bill were to be rejected in the Upper House, it would not make any difference.
Q. Will Aadhar be the only card in the future?
It could be a possibility. The government seems determined to give Aadhar all the power by making it mandatory for PAN Card application and filing Income Tax Returns. There are many other services, including railway ticket booking, claiming of subsidies, application for scholarships where Aadhar in all likelihood is going to become mandatory.
Q. What are the concerns about the Aadhar Card?
Aadhar was developed for targeted delivery of subsidies and services to individuals in India by assigning them unique identity numbers. But, with the government linking it to most services, it cannot be called voluntary anymore. This also makes it seem the government is violating the Supreme Court order dated August 11, 2015 which prevents making Aadhaar mandatory.
Also, many civil rights activist argue that the Aadhar infringes on the fundamental rights of citizens and compromises privacy of citizens. As many as 98 per cent of Indians already have Aadhar card or have applied for the same.