The Reserve Bank of India, in a reply to a Right to Information application filed by Moneylife.in, has said that it has not issued any directive that makes it mandatory for people to link their bank accounts with their Aadhaar number.
The response indicates that the instruction comes from the central government, and not the top bank. The Reserve Bank of India’s response said, “The government has issued a Gazette Notification...regarding Prevention of Money Laundering (Maintenance of Records) Second Amendment Rules, 2017, inter-alia, making furnishing of Aadhaar...and permanent number mandatory for opening a bank account.” It added: “It may be noted that Reserve Bank has not yet issued instruction in this regard.”
So far, more than 50 central schemes have been linked with Aadhaar. It was also made mandatory to file Income Tax returns. This was despite the Supreme Court restricting the usage of Aadhaar to six schemes. Legal experts have questioned the validity of the directive, which blatantly violates the Supreme Court’s order, Moneylife said.
Banks question UIDAI’s authority
The Indian Banks’ Association has written to the ministry of electronics and information technology, the Reserve Bank of India and the finance ministry’s department of financial services, saying that only the top bank can issue directives to them under the Banking Regulation Act, the Hindustan Times reported. The association has said that the Unique Identification Authority of India is not empowered to send such instructions to banks.
In July, the UIDAI had asked banks to open Aadhaar enrolment and updating facilities in at least one-tenth of their branches by August end. On October 7, it made it compulsory for banks to act as Aadhaar registrar and enrolment agencies.
“Aadhaar enrolment is not the primary role of banks,” an unidentified banking official told the Hindustan Times. “We are awaiting clarity from both RBI and government whether we should take directives from an external au¬thority to do Aadhaar enrolment as part of banking activity.”