The finance ministry in the coming months is completely going to reform the PAN card by issuing biometric smart card which contains cardholder’s fingerprints, retinal and iris scan making duplication almost impossible.
According to estimates, around 15 lakh of the total four crore PAN cards issued are duplicated by providing wrong information about their home address or even by furnishing ‘different names in the column of father’s name’ to get two or three PAN cards.
Biometric identification provides extremely accurate, secured access to information. Fingerprints as well as retinal and iris scans produce absolutely unique data sets when done systematically.
The step to introduce biometric PAN cards has been undertaken not just by recent incidents of issue of fake cards but also due to terrorism threat. The government fears that PAN cards could be an easy tool for terrorists to open bank accounts to finance their activities.
According to FM, first de-duplication (removing fake cards from the system) of PAN cards would be completed and then new biometric cards would be issued to assessees. The hi-tech card would be issued to the new applicants. However, the current PAN card holders would be persuaded to switch over to new card in their own interest. Earlier PAN cards would also remain valid.
Biometric PAN cards will not only provide a unique identity to assessee but also discourage evading of information regarding investments and high value transactions. It will also increase faith in the legal system of the country.
However the government may face opposition from certain sections of society for seeking more information and the cost of the new card. At present, acquiring a PAN card costs Rs.67. But the biometric cards would cost anything between Rs. 200 and Rs. 300, leaving aside the cost of setting up the infrastructure to issue these cards.