Aadhaar linkage with bank accounts mandatory, says RBI

‘Do not force bankers to do Aadhar seeding’

MUMBAI, Oct 21: The Reserve Bank of India today said biometric identity number Aadhaar linkage with bank accounts is mandatory.
The RBI clarification followed media reports quoting a reply to a Right to Information (RTI) application that suggested the apex bank has not issued any order for mandatory Aadhaar linkage with bank accounts.
“The Reserve Bank clarifies that, in applicable cases, linkage of Aadhaar number to bank account is mandatory under the Prevention of Money-laundering (Maintenance of Records) Second Amendment Rules, 2017 published in the Official Gazette on June 1, 2017,” the central bank said in a statement.
These rules have statutory force and, as such, banks have to implement them without awaiting further instructions, it said.
The government in June had made Aadhaar mandatory for opening bank accounts as well as for any financial transaction of Rs 50,000 and above.
Existing bank account holders have been asked to furnish the Aadhaar number issued by the Unique Identification Authority of India (UIDAI) by December 31, 2017, failing which the account will cease to be operational, the government notification had said.
There were reports in media quoting an RTI query in which RBI had said it “has not issued any instruction so far regarding mandatory linking of Aadhaar number with bank accounts”.
The government in Budget 2017 had already mandated seeding of Aadhaar number with Permanent Account Number to avoid individuals using multiple PANs to evade taxes.
The notification issued amending the Prevention of Money- laundering (Maintenance of Records) Rules, 2005, mandated quoting of Aadhaar along with PAN or Form 60 by individuals, companies and partnership firms for all financial transactions of Rs 50,000 or above.
Meanwhile, the All India Bank Officers Confederation (AIBOC) vehemently opposed the move of the government for making Aadhaar card mandatory to citizens rather than being voluntary.
“When the matter is subjudice in the Supreme Court, the urgency of the government in its implementation is uncalled for and against the true spirit of democracy,” stated the AIBOC in a release.
The Supreme Court has given an interim order saying that Aadhaar should not be made mandatory.
Banks have been asked to complete Aadhaar seeding and also open Aadhaar enrollment centres in its branches.
It is understood that the government has instructed the banks to ask its staff and officers to work on holidays to complete the task.
On August 11, 2015, the Supreme Court passed an interim order stating that the Aadhaar card was to be used only for the PDS scheme and for the LPG distribution scheme, with a clear mandate that it ought not to be used by the government for any other purpose.
Hence, the banks should not be taken to task when final judgment comes in the light of the Right to Privacy judgment, it said. The customers of the banks are in panic mode as they are being bombarded by ominous messages, emails and calls from banks about the dire consequences they could face if they fail to link their Aadhaar number to their bank accounts before the December 31 deadline.
The AIBOC demanded that the Aadhar seeding is put on hold until the Supreme Court comes out with a clear directive and the government should make it clear before the common citizens that the seeding of Aadhar is purely voluntary and not mandatory.