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TMC MLA moves SC over Aadhaar bank diktat

Trinamool Congress MLA and party general secretary Mahua Moitra on Monday filed a writ petition in the Supreme Court against the directive issued by banks to all account-holders making Aadhaar submission mandatory by December 31, failing which the accounts will be frozen.

Moitra also sought relief for new bank customers for whom Aadhaar submission is mandatory now.

Moitra said, "The petition has been filed in my capacity as a private citizen. The State Bank of India, of which I am a customer, has informed me that if I fail to submit my Aadhaar details by December 31, my account could be frozen or made inoperational. This is illegal. I, therefore, moved the court as a citizen. The petition has been filed today." Moitra, who reached Kolkata from New Delhi late on Monday, had been consulting senior Supreme Court lawyers.

Her petition challenges the recently introduced Rule 2 (b) and Rule 2 (c) of the Prevention of Money Laundering (Maintenance of Records) Second Amendment Rules, 2017. These rules introduced by the Narendra Modi government on June 1, mandates the submission of an Aadhaar number to banking companies by December 31, failing which (a) no individual can open a new bank account, and, (b) all individuals already having an account shall be disallowed from utilising the accounts, which will be rendered inoperational.

In her petition, Moitra argues, RBI makes it clear that Aadhaar is one of the six 'officially valid documents' (OVDs) in its 'know your customer' guidelines. Aadhaar, therefore, is optional not mandatory. By invoking the PMLA, the rules presume that all bank account holders who do not have Aadhaar registrations are guilty of money laundering. Moreover, this violates Article 300A, which says none should be deprived of their property.

"It also violates several other constitutional safeguards provided to citizens," she says.

The petition says even the Aadhaar Act (Targeted Delivery of Financial and Other Subsidies, Benefits and Services) Act, 2016 does not require an Aadhaar number as a mandatory requirement for availing any subsidy, benefit or service.According to Section 8 of the Aadhaar Act, banks may accept other ID proofs apart from Aadhaar and Section 9 clearly states that the Aadhaar number shall not by itself confer any right or be proof of citizenship or domicile.

The petition also says the apex court had held that the Aadhaar Scheme was to be voluntary in nature and permissible only in relation to a predetermined set of welfare schemes or benefits.