Even though the Constitution bench of Supreme Court is yet to decides on the privacy issue regarding Aadhaar, the government on Friday made Aadhaar card mandatory for opening bank accounts and for financial transactions of Rs 50,000 and above.
All existing account holders are asked to submit Aadhaar to banks by Dec 31, 2017, failing which accounts will become invalid, PTI reported.In recent months, most banks had been encouraging account holders through SMS and phone calls to link Aadhar with their bank accounts. This was probably done to pre-empt the possibility of it becoming compulsory in future.
One of the reasons the government could have made this mandatory is to promote digital transactions by promoting Aadhaar-enabled transactions without the use of debit and credit card.
In fact, experts had been anticipating the government would make it mandatory to link bank accounts with Aadhaar number after the decision to link of PAN with Aadhaar.
This was because bank accounts of the person would already have PAN (as KYC requirement). Once Aadhaar is linked with PAN, it will certainly lead to automatic link with the bank accounts as well. Hence, the interconnection of PAN card, Aadhaar and bank accounts, implies that the government will be able to keep a track of your financial transactions.
Aadhaar is a 12-digit number code, issued by the Unique Identification Authority of India (UIDAI). It is used to establish a person's identity on the basis of demographic and biometric information.
Earlier this month, Supreme Court had put a partial stay Section 139AA of IT Act, which allows mandatory linkage of Aadhaar for filing income tax returns (ITR) and allotment of PAN (permanent account number).
The apex court said the government could not force people to get Aadhaar until the main issue over privacy is decided. However, the it added that those who already possess the unique ID will have to link it with PAN.
Government's move comes days after Minister of State for Civil Aviation, Jayant Sinha had spoken about ministry's plan to introduce 'digital unique identification' requirement at the time of booking air tickets.
Air travellers are already required to carry a copy of their identity while entering an airport.