It looks like the raging debate on Aadhaar and linking it to several services in the country is not going to go away anytime soon. While public outcry is persuaded by privacy and security concerns, the objections on it being made mandatory continue to grow. And now, a new report has revealed that the Reserve Bank of India is yet to issue instructions over 'mandatory linking' of Aadhaar number with bank accounts.
According to information provided in response to an RTI application filed by Yogesh Sapkale of Moneylife.in, RBI says that "the Government has issued a Gazette Notification GSR 538(E) dated 1 June 2017 regarding Prevention of Money laundering (Maintenance of Records) Second Amendment Rules, 2017, inter-alia, making furnishing of Aadhaar (for those individuals who are eligible to be enrolled for Aadhaar) and permanent number (PAN) mandatory for opening a bank account. It may be noted that Reserve Bank has not yet issued an instruction in this regard."
The response from the central bank comes at a time when the banks in the country are threatening customers that failure to link their accounts with the unique identity card would see the suspension of the accounts.
Of interest is the fact that the Supreme Court has restricted usage of Aadhaar to six schemes where the government provides benefits or subsidy to individuals. Beneficiaries need to link Aadhaar to get the benefit of as many as 135 schemes (of 35 ministries) including free cooking gas (LPG) to poor women, kerosene and fertiliser subsidy, targeted public distribution system (PDS) and MGNREGA. The government has gone ahead and also made it mandatory for several other services, which is seen as a violation of the Supreme Court order on Aadhaar.
So, what does this mean? Do we read that linking of bank accounts with Aadhaar accounts was a decision pushed for by the central government? Several questions will be raised on the account of the latest information from the RBI on Aadhaar.