A Gender Lost: Govt Assures to Plug the Loophole in Aadhaar-PAN Linkage

The amendment comes in the light of the Supreme Court judgment from September 2018, wherein the Court had upheld the validity of the Aadhaar Act. However, it had limited the Aadhaar authentication for services, subsidy and benefits under Section 7 of the Act.

Aadhaar recognises the third gender but PAN doesn't.

In what may help resolve this identity crisis for the third gender, the central government on Monday agreed to consider plugging the loophole.

The government assured a bench headed by Chief Justice of India Dipak Misra that it will explore ways, including updation of the software, to find a solution to the problem.

The issue before the top court pertained to a quandary before the transgenders, who want to link their Aadhaar with PAN cards in accordance with the new norms but they are unable to do so.

The PAN card application form, downloadable from the website of the Income Tax department, does not contain a 'third gender' column as yet. Transgenders, therefore, cannot possess PAN cards that correctly identify their gender.

While an Aadhaar card can identify a person as a transgender, his or her existing PAN card would reflect the gender assigned to the person at birth – either male or female.

As a result of this mismatch between the genders mentioned in Aadhaar card and PAN card, the two cannot be linked.

Mumbai-based transgender Satyshri Sharmila moved the top court, citing this lacuna. Representing her, senior advocate CU Singh told the bench, also comprising Justices AM Khanwilkar and DY Chandrachud, that the issue was serious since a failure to link the two can even invite criminal prosecution. He added that there is a provision to invalidate the PAN card over failure to link it with Aadhaar.

Advocate Zoheb Hussain, appearing for the central government, responded that the apprehensions lack basis since another bench of the Supreme Court has already made it clear that no PAN card shall be invalidated until validity of Aadhaar is finally decided by the Constitution Bench.

Hussain added although there is no cause of action that has arisen to entertain this petition, the government would wish to examine the issue and come up with solution to the problems cited by Sharmila.

"We (government) don't want inconvenience for anyone. Give us four weeks and we will see how we can tweak the software and make it workable for everyone," Hussain submitted before the bench.

Accepting Hussain's plea, the bench recorded his statement and adjourned the case to enable the government come up with a solution.