While telecom operators and banks have been pressing their customers for providing Aadhaar to experience seamless service, a petition has been filed in the Supreme Court challenging the government’s directive to link the two with Aadhaar numbers. According to petition, filed by activist Dr. Kalyani Menon Sen, the government’s rule on linking Aadhaar violates the fundamental right to privacy and equates citizens, including the elderly, women and students, with money launderers.
“Non-compliance incurs the same liability as Section 5 of the Prevention of Money Laundering Act (for involvement in money laundering), that is rendering the concerned bank account in-operational. Present and potential bank account holders, who do not wish to part with their biometric information, are therefore treated on par with alleged offenders under the Prevention of Money Laundering Act (PMLA),” said Menon while submitting the petition.
The petition challenges Rule 2(b) of the Prevention of Money-laundering (Maintenance of Records) Second Amendment Rules, 2017 for companies, partnership firms and trusts for opening of bank accounts, maintaining existing bank accounts, making financial transactions of and above ?50,000 and crediting foreign remittance into ‘small accounts’
Provisions regarding both bank accounts and mobile phones have been blamed for creating an “impermissible artificial distinction” between those who have parted with their private, biometric information and those who have not.
It also blamed mobile phone circulars to be violative of Article 300A of the Constitution and Aadhaar Act 2016. While the former protects a person’s right to not be deprived of property, the latter limits the purpose of the Aadhaar number to receipt of a public subsidy, benefit or a service, the petition said.
“A bank account and mobile phone connection is the personal property of an individual. There exists numerous, less invasive and less disruptive methods of verifying the identity of account holders,” said Menon.