The Deadline to Link Aadhaar Card With Pan Card Extended, But it Remains Inevitable

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You must link Aadhaar with PAN card, the government has reiterated once again!

In the 2017 budget, the government imposed a new rule on the citizens of India instructing compulsory linking the Aadhaar card and PAN card. Under this rule, PAN card without a linked Aadhaar card would become inoperable and void.

The initial deadline for this procedure was set for September 30, 2019, giving the center and the citizens 2 years to complete the process. However, this deadline got extended multiple times. It first drew out to December, 31, 2019 and was further delayed to March 31, 2020.

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In March, however, a third extension was announced, with the new deadline moving up to June 30, 2020, owing to the coronavirus outbreak and hopes of it being under control by the stipulated time. As the situation continues to worsen, and as many Aadhaar cards still remain un-linked to pan cards, the centre has announced the fourth deadline for March 31, 2021.

What Happens If PAN and Aadhaar Aren’t Linked

As mentioned earlier, if a PAN card isn’t linked to an Aadhaar card, it will become inoperable past the deadline.

Consequently, holders of these PAN cards will be unable to perform a wide array of financial transactions and activities. These include opening a bank account, applying for credit/debit cards, buying and selling various goods such as vehicles, making big payments to establishments, etc. Additionally, these individuals will be unable to file for Income Tax Return from the government, a very important annual tax filing for all Indians.

To make the process easier and contact-less, people can directly link their Aadhaar and PAN on the Income Tax Department’s website in a few quick steps.

But Why is the Government Pushing for this Move?

With so many deadline extensions for a rule that came into effect 3 years ago, one can’t help but wonder about the purpose it serves.

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The Aadhaar card is a unique identification card that assigns 12 digit numbers to all applicants, granted they’re citizens of India. This designated number then becomes a numerical code for all personal identification data of the individual, which is stored in the government’s database. Thus, the Aadhaar card is an important identification card that lends credibility to individuals to a certain extent.

Making the linking of the PAN card, a document that makes the holder financially valid, and the Aadhaar card, which makes the holder’s identity valid, is thus an attempt to merge these two facets of everyday life.

On one hand, this would make bigger transactions more secure, make financial crimes more difficult to execute, and reduce the amount of paperwork and verification required for certain processes like opening bank accounts and fixed deposits.

But on the flip side, the linkage merges two highly sensitive databases.

The Aadhaar card has been scrutinized from the start, due to its imposition without deliberation, the massive budget of Rs. 11, 300 crores that went into it, and finally for being announced as a mandatory document. It continues to be seen as a scheme to converge citizen-related databases, as it is now necessary to avail a variety of facilities.

With the addition of PAN card data to this trove, citizens’ financial activities now have a clear, traceable source. This isn’t a concern in and of itself, but it becomes one when PAN cards deemed invalid are considered. With this rule, people who fail to link these two cards would be financially defunct. They’d be unable to do basic things like opening bank accounts or fixed deposits.

This fact feeds into widespread fears about the possibility of detailed surveillance of all citizens by the state. When taken in the context of recent controversial developments like the CAA and NRC, the thought of being stripped of one’s financial validity leads to larger fears about survival. Because while there are provisions for citizens to link the two cards past the deadline, there is also great uncertainty about the future of citizenship in India.

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