On July 15, Santosh Kumar Gangwar, Minister of State for labour and employment informed the Parliament that the Employees’ Provident Fund Organisation (EPFO) had not made the linking of Universal Account number (UAN) to Aadhaar mandatory for crediting provident fund contributions from employees and employers into the employee’s PF account, when asked about it from Congress’ MP Hibi Eden.

However, Gangwar said that seeding Aadhaar details along with PAN and bank details was being done by the EPFO for pensioners who wish to avail online services. “181 prosecution cases have been filed by the EPFO for non-submission of KYC by the establishments,” he noted.

Ironically, when asked if the EPFO prevented account holders from availing “any services” if they hadn’t linked Aadhaar with UAN, Gangwar replied in negative.

A petition in Madras HC argued that every employee enrolled with the Provident Fund was required to seed Aadhaar with their UAN (Universal Account Number)

Gangwar’s reply in Parliament is in contrast with a petition filed by Elisha Ebenezer in the Madras High Court which challenged a 2017 notification by the Ministry of Labour and Employment “making it mandatory for members of the Employee’s Pension Scheme to furnish their Aadhaar number to even continue their membership”. The petition noted that the EPFO notified its commissioners several times to “ensure the seeding of Aadhaar with the UAN of every pension member”. It also said that the circular is “violative of the voluntary character of the Aadhar enrolment process as provided in the Aadhar [sic] Act”. The Madras High Court has accepted the petition.

The petitioner further argued that the “present requirement of linking UAN with Aadhaar interferes with my right to operate and deal with my Provident Fund, which has no government contribution”. Arguing that employees’ pension fund includes regular contributions from her/his salary, the petition said that these are “deferred wages”, and depriving pensioners of their pension due to non-linkage of Aadhaar and UAN would be a violation of the right to property under Article 300A of the Constitution. It also highlighted portions of the SC verdict on Aadhaar, stating that Aadhaar linkage is to be mandatory only for “targeted benefits”. Finally, the petition alleged that the linkage of Aadhaar with UAN as proposed by the EPFO and Labour ministry is “unreasonable state compulsion”