Joining the Aadhaar seeding debate, public sector banks’ officer union has demanded that mandatory linking of biometric identity number should be put on hold till such time the Supreme Court comes out with a clear directive. Another organisation All India Bank Employees Association (AIBEA) has also registered their protest against instructions given by some of the banks to designate certain branches as special cells for enrolment of Aadhaar. The government should make it clear before the common citizens of the country that the seeding of Aadhaar is purely voluntary and not mandatory, All India Bank Officers Confederation (AIBOC) said in a statement. “The advisory to this effect should also be passed to all the stakeholders. We also demand that the government should look for alternatives or add more workforce into banks to implement Aadhaar related works in the public sector banks,” AIBOC General Secretary D T Franco said.
Earlier in the day, Reserve Bank of India said linkage of biometric identity number Aadhaar with bank accounts is mandatory. The RBI clarification followed media reports quoting a reply to a Right to Information (RTI) application that suggested the apex bank has not issued any order for mandatory Aadhaar linkage with bank accounts. AIBOC further contested that the Aadhaar Act of 2016 was meant to cover targeted delivery of financial and other subsidies, benefits and services that were paid out of the Consolidated Fund of India. Moreover, it said the Aadhaar Act prescribed that enrolment was entirely voluntary.
If the act of getting an Aadhaar card is voluntary under the law, it wondered, how can the government make it mandatory for continued access to banking and telecom facilities that were not covered by the Act in the first place. At a time when the resources of the public sector banks are under severe strain, employing their resources on Aadhaar seeding will further constrain them in their efforts of recovery of NPAs, which eventually will further deteriorate the health, it said. “At present, this work is being done by some private agencies and bank premises are being used by them. Latest instructions are to disengage these private agencies and entrust the Aadhaar enrolment/updation work entirely to the bank staff,” AIBEA said.
This is unacceptable since the bank staff are overburdened due to inadequate recruitment and increased volume of work of implementing various government schemes, among other things, it said.