Jaitley clears air on Aadhaar security

| | New Delhi

Finance Minister Arun Jaitley on Wednesday clarified that benefits of social welfare will not be stopped for those who do not have Aadhaar card. However, he did suggest that those who do not have Aadhar can produce any other ID and simultaneously apply for Aadhar.  While replying to the discussion on Finance Bill in Rajya Sabha where a lot of members had raised concerns with regard to security of Aadhar related data, Jaitley said that strong firewalls and anti-hacking systems can keep it secure. 

Defending the Government’s efforts to make Aadhaar compulsory for access to various benefits, Jaitley said that linking Permanent Account Number (PAN) for the purpose of Income Tax return filing  was necessary to check financial frauds, including tax evasion. 

He acknowledged that Aadhar was a ‘great initiative’ of the previous UPA Government and the NDA dispensation is expanding it.

“Earlier, some of us had doubts over Aadhaar...Some of your people (in Congress) also had doubts. Later, a presentation was made to the Prime Minister (Narendra Modi) where the doubts were cleared,” Jaitley said.

Meanwhile, the Finance Bill was passed in Rajya Sabha on Wednesday with five amendments moved by the Opposition leader Digvijay Singh and Sitaram Yechury. One of the amendments moved by Congress member Digvijaya Singh related to a clause which gave powers to an Assistant Commissioner of Income Tax, rather than the Commissioner as prescribed earlier, to order searches. Singh said junior officers should not be given such powers since the Income Tax Department is already notorious in terms of graft.

Yechury’s two amendments related to a clause linked to political funding. The amended Finance Bill, which contains provisions for taxation, will now have to be considered again by the Lok Sabha, which can either accept or reject the amendments. If it rejects the amendments, the Bill is deemed to have been passed by Parliament.

The Finance Minister also tried to clarify air on several other issues including appointment of judges in the various tribunals and assured members that any such appointment will be done in consultation with the Judiciary.

Jaitley also responded to questions over changes proposed to the Income Tax laws and asserted that the Finance Bill protects the source of information for tax evasion. “Any source who reports about  tax evasion, cannot be allowed to be identified. The provision is aimed at protecting the whistleblower who can be a trade union leader, a disgruntled employee or a dissatisfied partner,” Jaitley said.  He added that the IT authorities will conduct searches on the basis of ‘satisfaction note’ which will only be dislcosed to the Courts and not the assessee or the target of the investigation.



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