Taking a leaf from a Hollywood film, the Income Tax department is looking at the iris scan technology for Permanent Account Number cards to overcome the menace of duplicate cards. The iris recognition technology maps an individuals retina for identification and is widely used the world over as a safety measure.
The department was asked by finance minister P Chidambaram to use biometrics fields for PAN cards to overcome the menace of duplicate cards. The eye-recognition technique is one such method. The department has used finger prints earlier with PAN cards, but as finger-prints of an individual undergo changes in few years, it is now not very keen on it.
However, the iris-technology card comes with a hefty price tag. With the use of biometrics field, the cost of a PAN card which at present costs around Rs 70 could go up to Rs 200-300. It is examining loading identification information about a person on its own servers, sources said.
The finance ministry has set December 06 as the deadline for getting rid of duplicate cards. The search engine which has been developed by the department to track data from the Annual Information Returns will also be used to fish out duplicate pan cards.
Those found with duplicate cards would be asked to surrender them voluntarily for which the department will launch a media campaign. After giving ample time for returning the duplicate cards, after penal actions could also be taken.
As per the department estimates, the number of duplicate cards is at present about 2.6m. With quoting of PAN becoming mandatory in a large number of transactions, there is a rush for obtaining PAN card. The department has received 18 lakh applications for issue of new PAN cards, within last 11 weeks.