By Vidyut

The Hindu had reported on the 18th that the new website design for the LIC portal made it impossible for users to access their own accounts without updating details of Aadhaar and PAN.

This had resulted in several users of the site being forced to provide their Aadhaar details even while the deadline for linking had been extended to March 31, 2018, and the constitutionality of Aadhaar itself being disputed in the Supreme Court. It would also make it impossible for policyholders without PAN cards to access their profiles.

Following this report as well as a public outcry on social media, The Hindu has published a follow up story reporting the response of the executive director corporate communications, LIC to their email asking about this, in which he has said that this was “inadvertently” done and that the mandatory requirement for providing Aadhaar numbers would be removed. He also said that the earlier website was available without requesting an Aadhaar number.

He responded that the seeking of the Aadhaar details was “inadvertently” made mandatory and that the issue had been escalated to their technical team. He did not, however, provide a date by when this would be done.

Not for the first time

This wouldn’t be the first time an organization has confused the legal status of “voluntary” with the aggressively pushed stand of “mandatory” in ways that were in conflict with the law.

Taxpayers had been unable to file their income tax returns when the online portal for filing them would not accept the submissions without an Aadhaar number. This continued even after the Supreme Court had ordered a partial stay on the Aadhaar-PAN linkage that would exempt those who did not have an Aadhaar number from being required to provide it while filing tax returns.

The ICICI mobile app appears to be unable to proceed beyond the login without an Aadhaar number being provided. There are no obvious instructions, but the user can scroll down the notification and tick the checkbox about the deadline.

Similar instances of coercion keep happening on and off for all the services Aadhaar linking has been announced for. There are reports of bank accounts being frozen or Mobile SIMs deactivated, including the SIM of the project director for Aadhaar for the State of Karnataka being deactivated.

There appears to be no oversight on the measures taken by various services to link Aadhaar to accounts with them.