The Ministry of Petroleum and Natural Gas has asked 10 lakh employees at petrol pumps across the country for personal details like their caste, religion and which constituency they are from, NDTV reported on Tuesday. The information is ostensibly meant for a skill development programme, but dealers have threatened legal action, claiming that the government’s demands are unconstitutional.
Three public sector oil companies – Hindustan Petroleum Corporation Ltd, Indian Oil Corporation Ltd and Bharat Petroleum Corporation Ltd – in June wrote letters to 59,000 petroleum dealers across India asking them to send the details of their employees for the Recognition of Prior Learning scheme under the Prime Minister’s Skill Development Programme. The letter says that the employees will get a “formal qualification by the Hydrocarbon Sector Skill Council which can be used for realising career aspirations”.
The details sought include Aadhaar number, religion, caste and constituency, NDTV reported citing documents it has accessed. “Such personal information should be preserved between employers and the employees,” Consortium of Indian Petroleum Dealers General Secretary K Suresh Kumar told the news channel. “Considering the intricacies of secrecy and dignity of maintaining confidentiality, we have written to the oil companies that we will not be interested in sharing this information.”
Dealers also claim that government-run oil firms are threatening to block supplies if the details are not provided. The Punjab Petroleum Dealers Association has sent a legal notice to the Indian Oil Corporation against one such threat over email.