As Indian citizens are inundated with messages that ask them to link their phone numbers and bank accounts with Aadhaar, another petition has been filed against Aadhaar in Supreme Court. The new petition by Kalyani Menon Sen, who describes herself as a feminist scholar and activist working for 25 years on issues relating to women’s rights, challenges the constitutional validity of the decision of RBI to making linkage of bank accounts with Aadhaar mandatory on grounds of violation of right to privacy.
The petition comes a day after RBI stated that linking of bank accounts with Aadhaar has been made mandatory under the provisions of the Prevention of Money Laundering Act. The central bank stated, “The government has issued a gazette notification GSR 538(E) dated 1 June 2017 regarding Prevention of Money Laundering (Maintenance of Records) Second Amendment Rules (PMLA), 2017, inter alia, making furnishing of Aadhaar (for those individuals who are eligible to be enrolled for Aadhaar) and permanent number (PAN) mandatory for opening a bank account.”
The clarification from RBI dismissed recent media reports which suggested that such a linkage is not mandatory.
In addition to challenging the RBI order, the petition also challenged the validity of the March 23 circular issued by the department of telecommunication making it mandatory for citizens to link their mobile phones with Aadhaar. She stated that both decisions violated an individual’s right to privacy and, hence, are unconstitutional.
Her petition stated, “A citizen’s right to privacy is a fundamental right that is constitutionally protected. The right to privacy in the context of these two circulars (linking Aadhaar with bank accounts and mobile phones) has violated a citizen’s complete right over ownership and control of his core biometric information to the exclusion of all others, including the State.”
Aadhaar, Supreme Court, And The Right To Privacy Conundrum
The latest petition by Kalyani Sen adds further fodder to the pending pleas challenging Aadhaar on the grounds of violation of privacy. In August this year, a nine-member bench of the Supreme Court gave a unanimous verdict that Right to Privacy is a fundamental right, giving a huge setback to the government’s Aadhaar policy. Post this judgment, a five-judge bench of the Supreme Court will now test the validity of Aadhaar from the aspect of privacy as a Fundamental Right.