Mains Paper 2: Government policies and interventions for development in various sectors and issues arising out of their design and implementation.
The following things are important from UPSC perspective:
Prelims: Not much
Mains level: This news is important for mains as it give important points regarding how the linking of Aadhaar to bank accounts violates various laws and provisions. UPSC have been asking about issues like these of national importance which have been in news for a while.
- The Supreme Court will hear a petition challenging the government move to link bank accounts and mobile phones with Aadhaar numbers
- The court has stated that it violates the fundamental right to privacy and equates citizens, including the elderly, women and students, with money launderers.
What the petition is about?
The petition has challenged Rule 2(b) of the Prevention of Money-laundering (Maintenance of Records) Second Amendment Rules, 2017 for-
- Mandatory submission of Aadhaar number for individual clients, 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.
- Existing bank account holders have been directed to furnish Aadhaar numbers by December 31, 2017.
- Non-compliance would render the bank accounts “in-operational indefinitely” subject to submission of the Aadhaar Number and the Permanent Account Number (PAN).
- 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).
- The petition challenges the Department of Telecom on March 23, 2017 making it mandatory for all mobile phone holders to link their mobile phone numbers with Aadhaar.
- The mobile phone circular is violative of Article 300A of the Constitution which protects a person’s right to not be deprived of property.
Why plea against linking Aadhaar to bank accounts, phones?
- The provision regarding bank accounts and mobile phones both separately create an “impermissible artificial distinction” between those who have parted with their private, biometric information and those who have not.
- They both compel the latter category of the population to part with their biometrics for opening and maintaining bank accounts or for a mobile phone connection.
- Both the provision and the circular are violative of the Aadhaar (Targeted Delivery of Financial and other Subsidies, Benefits and Services) Act, 2016 which limits the purpose of the Aadhaar number to receipt of a public subsidy, benefit or a service.
- The Aadhaar number may even compromise the efficacy of the KYC procedures and the customer database.
- Compelling citizens to part with their biometric details compromises India’s international law obligations.
- It goes against the very concept of the expression ‘limited government’, which means the State cannot act against the spirit and the assurance of the Constitution.