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Service providers defying SC’s Aadhaar directives

Even after the Supreme Court reserved the order and the central government had indefinitely extended the deadline for linking Aadhaar number with bank accounts and mobile numbers, banks and telecom service providers continue to ask customers to submit their Aadhaar details along with PAN card details for opening new bank accounts and getting new SIM cards. Even the existing customers are being asked to link their Aadhaar numbers with bank accounts. Customers are either asked to submit their Aadhaar numbers or quote their Aadhaar enrolment number for opening new bank accounts.

Social activist Abhijeet Rane said, “Though the Supreme Court issued orders pertaining to Aadhaar linking, unfortunately, the awareness has not reached till masses. Media should create awareness on such subjects. Most of the people are unaware that Aadhaar cards are not mandatory in some cases. The government and administration are neglecting this issue. So it should take action against the concerned departments and those who are not following the court order. If they take these steps, then it might provide some relief to the common people.”

Even customers are asked to furnish Aadhaar numbers for porting their mobile numbers and as a result of this, those who don’t possess Aadhaar cards are facing severe inconvenience. Already citizens have filed several petitions with the apex court challenging the government’s decision asking citizens to compulsorily link their Aadhaar numbers with bank accounts, PAN card, and LIC policies. The Supreme Court had then asked the government that it cannot insist customers on linking Aadhaar with mobile, bank account and for obtaining tatkal passport. The apex court had said that the mandatory linking of Aadhaar with bank accounts and mobile numbers will remain indefinitely extended until it delivers its verdict on this issue. Despite this, why is the government adamant on its stand and asking citizens to furnish Aadhaar for availing various services? Citizens have already expressed concern about the privacy and safety of data and its possible misuse.

BJP spokesperson Shirish Boralkar said, “We need to understand why the Supreme Court has extended the Aadhaar linking deadline as many people are yet to link their Aadhaar numbers for availing various services. Since people were facing a shortage of time, hence, as per the court order, the government has postponed the Aadhaar linking deadline. If citizens already possess Aadhaar card, then they can submit it for availing the concerned service as it is an authenticated document. For obtaining SIM card and opening bank account, people can also submit some other documents instead of Aadhaar card if they don’t possess it.”

The government’s directive to link Aadhaar with ration card had claimed the life of a girl in Jharkhand. Last year, an 11-year-old girl died in Simdega district of the state due to starvation after her family’s ration card was cancelled as it was not linked to Aadhaar number. Due to non-availability of mid-day meals during Durga Puja, Santoshi Kumari had gone without food for eight days before she died. Even Rajasthan and many other states have been denying rations by asking people for their biometric authentication linked to Aadhaar cards.

Anup Thakur, a Thane resident said, “Service providers asking citizens to submit Aadhaar card compulsorily is unjustified as the Supreme Court is yet to deliver its verdict in this regard. According to me, the Aadhaar card is very beneficial. A person’s biometric details cannot be accessed by others. If someone tries to access it, then the user will receive an alert on his mobile number and email. According to me, Aadhaar should not be made mandatory but if offers several benefits to the citizens.”

The deadline for linking Aadhaar with PAN has been extended several times. The initial deadline for linking Aadhaar was fixed on July 31, 2017, which was extended till August 31. The deadline was extended to December 31, then March 31 and finally to June 30, 2018. When the government had initially asked citizens to link their Aadhaar numbers with mobile numbers, a huge queue was witnessed outside the mobile service outlets. Senior citizens were finding it difficult to link their Aadhaar numbers with mobile numbers as their fingerprints were not being read by the biometric devices. Many of them were also facing hardships to visit the mobile service outlet due to health issues.

A working professional from Andheri spoke to AV on the condition of anonymity and said, “Recently, when I tried to open a new bank account online, the registration process asked me to mandatorily include my Aadhaar number to proceed to the next segment. The same happened with one of my friends when he was applying for a new SIM card.”

“If the risk factor associated with linking Aadhaar still a question for the Supreme Court and it is yet to take a call on the same, why does the government want us to risk our data? There’s a major lack of awareness in the administration! In the coming time, if the SC rules out the Aadhaar being mandatory for services, is the government going to ensure that our information won’t be violated?” she asked further.”

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