Yes, linking Aadhaar with bank account is must: RBI
Mumbai: The Reserve Bank of India (RBI), the country's central bank, stated categorically on Saturday that the linkage of biometric identity number Aadhaar with bank accounts is mandatory, thus bringing to an end the confusion triggered among the people by a section of the media which had created the impression that such a linkage is not compulsory. The RBI clarified that it had, indeed, never issued any direction linking Aadhaar with bank accounts and that this was a decision of the Union Government itself.
Elaborating on the issue, the RBI explained that the linkage of Aadhaar number to bank accounts is mandatory under the Prevention of Money laundering (Maintenance of Records) Second Amendment Rules, 2017. "The Reserve Bank clarifies that, in applicable cases, linkage of Aadhaar number to bank account is mandatory under the Prevention of Money laundering (Maintenance of Records) Second Amendment Rules, 2017 published in the Official Gazette on June 1, 2017," the RBI said. These rules have statutory force and, as such, banks have to implement them without awaiting further instructions, it said.
It was in a response to a Right to Information (RTI) Act application filed by Moneylife India (and carried by it on October 18) that the the RBI said, "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, 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. It may be noted that Reserve Bank has not yet issued instruction in this regard".
The RTI query further asked whether RBI had the Supreme Court's permission to mandatorily link Aadhaar with bank accounts. In its reply, the RBI said it had not filed any such petition before the Supreme Court.
In June the government had made it mandatory to link bank accounts with the 12-digit biometric identification number as well as for any financial transaction of Rs 50,000 and above. This linking of Aadhaar to bank accounts is a process over and above the Know Your Customer (KYC) norms already followed by the banks.
Apart from those who are opening new bank accounts, existing account holders, too, have been asked to furnish the Aadhaar number issued by the Unique Identification Authority of India (UIDAI) by December 31, 2017, failing which the account will cease to be operational, the government notification had said.
The government in Budget 2017 had already mandated seeding of Aadhaar number with Permanent Account Number to avoid individuals using multiple PANs to evade taxes. The notification issued amending the Prevention of Money Laundering (Maintenance of Records) Rules, 2005, mandated quoting of Aadhaar along with PAN or Form 60 by individuals, companies and partnership firms for all financial transactions of Rs 50,000 or above.
Finance Minister Arun Jaitley had said in August that 524 million Aadhaar numbers have been linked to 736.2 million bank accounts in the country. The Finance Minister had outlined a "one billion-one billion-one billion vision" for the country. "That is one billion unique Aadhaar numbers linked to one billion bank accounts and one billion mobile phones. Once that is done, all of India can become part of the financial and digital mainstream," Jaitley had said.