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Approach Constitution Bench: Court on NRI’s Plea Against Aadhaar Link to Bank Accounts

Complainant Femin Panikkassery Subramanyam said linking of bank accounts with Aadhaar violated his fundamental rights.

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Addressing a Non-Resident Indian’s queries about linking Aadhaar to bank accounts, the Supreme Court on Nov. 17 said that the queries should be taken up with the Constitution Bench. The NRI had challenged the linking of Aadhaar to bank accounts.

The Constitution Bench is scheduled to hear a plethora of complaints at the end of November against the validity of connecting bank accounts and phone numbers with Aadhaar. The complainant, Femin Panikkassery Subramanyam, is a native of Kerala who has been living in Dubai for two decades. Justice AK Sikri and Justice Ashok Bhushan asked him to take up the matter with the bench.

Subramanyam said that amendments to the Prevention of Money Laundering Rules that mandated linking of bank accounts with Aadhaar numbers violated his fundamental rights under Articles 14, 19, and 21 of the Constitution.

Meanwhile, the authority that issues Aadhaar, Unique Identification Authority of India (UIDAI), said that NRIs and Persons of Indian Origin (PIO) are not mandated to link Aadhaar with bank accounts since they are not eligible to hold the unique identity number. Most NRIs/PIOs/ Overseas Citizen (OCI) are not eligible to hold the unique identity number and various ministries, departments should come up with a mechanism to check the validity of such individuals, the UIDAI said on Nov. 15.

“The Aadhaar Act, as it stands today, does not permit Aadhaar enrollment of an NRI, PIO or any other class of Indian expatriates. It is the specific case of the petitioner that the present amendment has created untold miseries to the millions of expatriates, including the petitioner,” Subramanyam’s plea said. An individual must live in India for 182 days prior to applying for the unique identity number. He said it was not citizen-centric.

He said his financial base has been “wrecked owing to the whims and vagaries of some Tughlaq-ian administrators.”

“The laws regarding submitting/linking of Aadhaar for availing the services/benefits applies to the residents as per the Aadhaar Act 2016… Most of the NRIs/PIOs/OCIs may not be eligible for Aadhaar enrollment as per Aadhaar Act…,” the UIDAI said in a note dated Nov. 15 to central ministries and states. The authority acknowledged that NRIs, PIOs and OCIs were facing problem due to the new amendments.

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