The linking of Aadhaar to bank accounts and PAN card has been put off by the government from the deadline of December 31, 2017. In a gazette notification, dated December 12, the ministry of finance said that citizens will have to link Aadhaar to bank accounts and PAN ” by such date as may be notified by the Central Government” instead of the earlier deadline. In other words, the linking of Aadhaar is put off indefinitely for bank accounts and PAN till the government says otherwise.
The government had made it mandatory to link the 12-digit identity number to bank accounts and PAN card by amendments to the Prevention of Money-Laundering rules (PMLA). Earlier this month, law and information technology minister Ravi Shankar Prasad said that more than 50 crore bank accounts out of 80 crore bank accounts have been linked to Aadhaar and tried to downplay privacy concerns raised.
“50 crore people have voluntarily linked 81 crore bank accounts to Aadhaar cards. I don’t understand why there’s opposition to the government initiative by other people?” Prasad said.
The PMLA mandates banks and financial institutions to take PAN and Aadhar for opening a bank account as well as for any financial transaction of Rs 50,000 and above. Consequently, it was expanded to the insurance and mutual funds segment as well. However, the deadline for linking Aadhaar to mobile numbers is February 6, 2018.
The Supreme Court is currently hearing various petitions against the increased expansion of the Aadhaar programme. Currently, the government has a committee looking into a data protection law, led by former Supreme Court Justice BN Srikrishna, has issued a consultation paper for the draft Data Protection Bill. The deadline for the consultation paper is December 31, 2017. The Supreme Court said that it would take a view on its judgment after comments for the consultation paper were submitted.
Note that the centre had told the SC that it was willing to extend the deadline for linking Aadhaar to various government welfare schemes till March 31, 2018. Around 135 government funded welfare schemes come under this.
No clarity on wallets
Note that the RBI also came out with revised guidelines for wallets in the country. While the guidelines mentioned that PMLA rules will apply, it does not specify explicitly that users have to link their Aadhaar for wallets. There is confusion among wallet players where they could perform regular KYC for users or if they have to perform Aadhaar eKYC. Last week, users started reporting that Paytm, the largest wallet player in India, degraded accounts with KYC to a lower limit and wanted them to re-verify themselves using Aadhaar KYC. More details from Srikanth’s blog post.