Income Tax department and the Unique Identification Authority of India have agreed “in-principle” to come together for rolling out PAN cards with unique 16 digit Aadhaar number. Official sources said both the UIDAI headed by Nandan Nilekani and the finance ministry has held series of meetings on the subject and are now in the process of working out the modalities.
The Aadhaar, earlier known as Unique Identification Number, will be issued after collection of prints of all ten fingers, iris and face.
This collaboration might pave the way for the delayed biometric PAN cards, an initiative proposed by the then finance minister P. Chidambaram in 2006 to counter the problem of duplicate PAN cards which were uncovered during IT searches and raids by police and other enforcement agencies.
It could also, however, cap the plan as the UID number itself will cut out the duplicates.
“Yes, the IT department has in principle agreed for UID based PAN cards,” Nilekani said when asked.
Incidentally, sources said the I-T department had put on hold the proposal to issue biometric PAN cards to avoid duplication with the UID numbers.
The proposed biometric PAN cards would have carried the income tax assesses’ fingerprints (two from each hand) and the face.
Such a card, it was hoped, would be difficult to duplicate or manipulate. But after the UIDAI was set up last year, the I-T department’s plan has been put on hold.
A senior finance ministry official said, “The biometric PAN card project of the department has been kept in abeyance till the UID is rolled out.”
In the meantime, the suspension will allow the I-T department to understand and analyse whether after a biometric UID, a PAN with similar features would be necessary or not.”
The Aadhaar number is expected to roll out by February, 2011. Officials are hopeful that if the UID is made mandatory for issuing PAN cards in the future, the present cases of certain people having more than one PAN card would be curbed.