The Supreme Court passed its judgment on the validity of Aadhaar yesterday. Although it said that Aadhaar is a valid document, it has said that forcing people to link their mobile numbers and bank accounts with it is unconstitutional.
This is good news for someone who is yet to link their bank accounts and mobile numbers with their Aadhaar. What about those who have already linked them? Can they delink their Aadhaar from their bank accounts and mobile numbers?
Most likely in the coming days, banks and telecom service providers will start putting in place a streamlined delinking process. The concerned regulators will also have to come out with clear-cut guidelines that have to be followed in the process of delinking Aadhaar with respective services.
In the meantime, to delink bank account and mobile connection with Aadhaar, you may call up the respective call centres or email them to place a request for delinking. Till the process to do so is not defined by the regulator, the entities may follow their own processes. One may have to visit the bank branch and place a written request to delink the account. Make sure to follow up with them to ensure that the delinking process is complete.
However, before you go ahead and delink your bank account from your Aadhaar, make sure that there are no direct benefit transfers (DBT) or subsidies being received by you in your account. To keep receiving the DBT, the bank account needs to be linked to the Aadhaar number.
Delinking of e-KYC data was always allowed
If you had undergone an e-KYC with any KUA (KYC user agency) for authenticating a bank account or for a mobile connection, as per the Aadhaar Act, you are legally allowed to delink the same. The e-KYC data would refer to the demographic information and photograph of the Aadhaar number holder.
According to the ‘Compendium of Regulations, Circulars and Guidelines’ for authentication of Aadhaar-based e-KYC, available on the official website of UIDAI (Unique Identification Authority of India), “The Aadhaar number holder may, at any time, revoke consent given to a KUA for storing his e-KYC data or for sharing it with third parties, and upon such revocation, the KUA shall delete the e-KYC data and cease any further sharing.”
e-KYC authentication facility means a type of authentication facility in which the biometric information and/or OTP and Aadhaar number securely submitted with the consent of the Aadhaar number holder through a requesting entity, is matched against the data available in the CIDR, and the Authority returns a digitally signed response containing e-KYC data along with other technical details related to the authentication transaction.
Further, the rules says, “In addition to the restriction on further sharing contained in sub-regulation (4), all other obligations relating to the personal information of the Aadhaar number holder, data security and other relevant responsibilities applicable to requesting entities, shall also apply to the agency or entity with whom e-KYC data has been shared in accordance with this regulation 16.”
SC’s take in case of bank accounts
In case of mandatory linking of Aadhaar to bank accounts, the Supreme Court had these observations – “It was further submitted that in case a person fails to link Aadhaar with the bank account, such person would be rendered ineligible to operate the bank account, which would amount to forfeiting her money lying in the account which belongs to her. This amounts to depriving the person from her property. There are alternative methods of KYCwhich the banks are already undertaking, the state has not discharged its burden as to why linking of Aadhaar is imperative.”
And this was the verdict – The amendment to Rule 9 of Prevention of Money Laundering (Maintenance of Records) Seventh Amendment Rules, 2017, in the present form, to be unconstitutional.
SC’s take in case of mobile connections
In case of mobile subscribers, by a Circular dated March 23, 2017, the Department of Telecommunications had directed that all licensees shall re-verify the existing mobile subscribers (pre-paid and post-paid) through an Aadhaar
based e-KYC process. It amounts to mandatory linking of mobile connections with Aadhaar, which requirement is not only in respect of those individuals who would be becoming mobile subscribers, but applies to existing subscribers as well.
The Supreme Court had these observations – “Circular dated March 23, 2017 mandating linking of mobile number with Aadhaar is held to be illegal and unconstitutional as it is not backed by any law and is hereby quashed.”