He Fought against 'Mandatory' Aadhaar Linking for Salary & Won!
While the government is trying hard to crush every voice against Aadhaar, one person from Mumbai not only fought, but also received interest on his salary, held back due to non-linking of his account with Aadhaar, along with an interest. Last month, the Bombay High Court asked Mumbai Port Trust (MbPT) to pay interest at the rate of 7.5% on the 30 months’ salary of Ramesh R Kurhade. 
 
This judgement will hopefully be a big warning to all organisation that have been forcing employees to link Aadhaar for receiving salaries and other legitimate benefits. 
 
In the order, the bench of Justice Akhil Kureshi and SJ Kathawala, says, "None of the contentions would persuade us to deny the interest on the delayed payment of salary. Firstly, because the petitioner was a sole objector can hardly be a ground to test the correctness of his stand. Secondly, the respondents (MbPT) are not in a position to show any authority under which they could have withheld the salary of an employee simply because of pending clarity in the proceedings before the Supreme Court the petitioner refused to divulge his Aadhaar card details. Now that the Supreme Court has given its final verdict pursuant to which his salary is also released, the petitioner must receive reasonable interest on delayed payment."
 
The HC asked MbPT to pay a simple interest of 7.5% on the delayed payment to Mr Kurhade before 31 July 2019. 
 
A report from Mumbai Mirror describes Mr Kurhade as an active member of several employee unions and an ardent follower of famed trade union leader Dutta Samant, who single-handedly fought a four-year battle against this 'arbitrary diktat' and won last month.
 
Mr Kurhade’s fight pre dates the historic Aadhaar judgement that upheld the Aadhaar Act, including the mandatory use of Aadhaar-based identification for government welfare schemes, but struck down the mandatory private use of Aadhaar. Mr Kurhade fell under the latter, the newspaper says.
 
On 23 December 2015, the Port Trust had issued a circular asking all its employees to link their Aadhar cards to their bank accounts before 15 February 2016 in order to receive their salaries. MbPT has 800 employees.
 
All except Mr Kurhade linked their Aadhaar numbers to their bank accounts. Mr Kurhade objected to the circular saying that MbPT cannot insist on Aadhaar linking for releasing his salary.  
 
“Like others, I thought they were only threatening us. But when our salaries weren’t disbursed, the rest gave their details. I knew I wasn’t bowing out without a fight,” the report says quoting Mr Kurhade. All through 2016-17, Mr Kurhade exchanged a series of letters with Port Trust officials, finally resulting in a writ petition that he filed in the HC in January 2018 through advocate DP Sawant, it added.
 
Since he did not provide Aadhaar linking details, MbPT did not release his salary from July 2016 for the next 30 months. Mr Kurhade then filed a petition before the Bombay HC. At that time, the permissibility of linking of Aadhaar details with various schemes and payments was under challenge before the Supreme Court.
 
On 26 September 2018, the apex court delivered its judgement which limited the mandatory use of Aadhaar only to schemes and benefits for which money was spent from the Consolidated Fund of India. 
 
The apex court clearly ruled that a person or account-holder cannot be forced to link his/her bank account/s with Aadhaar. "This linking is made compulsory not only for opening a new bank account but even for existing bank accounts with a stipulation that if the same is not done then the account would be deactivated, with the result that the holder of the account would not be entitled to operate the bank account till the time seeding of the bank account with Aadhaar is done. This amounts to depriving a person of his property. We find that this move of mandatory linking of Aadhaar with bank account does not satisfy the test of proportionality," the SC had said.
 
After the Supreme Court judgement, the MbPT released Mr Kurhade's 30 months pending salary without insisting on Aadhaar linking. 
 
Advocate Dilip Sawant, appearing for Mr Kurhade, contended before the Mumbai HC that since the salary was withheld without authority of law by MbPT, Mr Kurhade must be paid interest on delayed payment of salary.
 
Adwait Sethna, counsel for MbPT, contended that the issues were pending before the Supreme Court and the government had directed the Port Trust to link the Aadhaar details of the employees. Mr Kurhade was the sole employee, out of nearly 800 employees, who had objected to this, the counsel told the HC.
 
The High Court, however rejected the contention saying, "....because the petitioner was a sole objector can hardly be a ground to test the correctness of his stand. ...MbPT are not in a position to show any authority under which they could have withheld the salary of an employee..."
 
The HC then directed the Port Trust to pay an interest of 7.5% on the 30 months’ salary withheld by MbPT to Mr Kurhade.
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COMMENTS

P M Ravindran

2 days ago

Of course Mr Kurhade did get a moral victory but did the 7 pc simple interest even cover the advocate fees?

P M Ravindran

2 days ago

Maj Gen S G Vombatkare, a member of Medha Patkar led National Alliance of People's Movements, had also fought a judicial battle on this score and won. But the apex court order is also not very clear. It had made linking of aadhaar with bank accounts not mandatory but then I understand, correct me here, that bank accounts were to be linked to PAN and aadhaar was to be linked to PAN! So where does that take you?

Personally I got my aadhaar when I was informed that I would not get pension if the pension account was not linked to aadhaar. But within almost a month of my getting my aadhaar I got a wrong alert through e mail, addressing me as Ravi Kumar Ohja and quoting a different number for aadhaar saying that it had been used successfully for verifying a transaction. I took up the matter with the UIDAI and even the concerned minister but no corrective action seems to have been taken as I continue to get such wrong alerts which I have been neglecting since then.

But the questions remain, (1) would Ravi Kumar Ohja be getting the alerts if these are his transactions? and (2) Why I have been getting alerts only through e mail, which are not frequently looked up, and not through SMS or whatsapp in spite of my mobile number being mentioned even in the aadhaar card?

Dinesh Kukreti

4 days ago

These kind of people are actually been used by criminals, what would have happened if he would have provided his adhar details, clearly either he is involved in some criminal activities or he didn't work at all and just draws his salary otherwise how he would have been survived for 30 months without money.
These are people whose benefit Kasab like people uses, as if all citizens would not be linked to adhar how one recognises Pakistanis, Bangladeshis or Rohingyas, almost 99.9% of whom are terrorists.

MIHIR AVINASH KULKARNI

4 days ago

How did he survive for 30 months without salary? He doesn't need the job any way. He has achieved his financial freedom.

kashyap joshipura

4 days ago

Bravo….Salary is not a welfare activity. Blind enthusiastic follower of Aadhar are forcing all activities with Aadhar .Recently I had visited Language Department (Bhasha Bhavan)of Gujarat University Ahmedabad for weekend part time course of Sanskrit learning.i was informed by the research students about requirement ,(1) Fees students 1250/Non Students 2500/(2) Xerox copy of Aadhar Card (3)Signature from all family members……It means I am not getting subsidy but giving subsidy to other students as professional senior citizens,,,,,despite giving subsidy I have to produce Aadhar Card…for what purpose….i have to take signature from my family members….am I not mature enough to learn Sanskrit without any one permission…..I had objected that….via SMS…..R we slave of Management>>>>??????

Economic Survey Pushes For Interlinking and Selling Citizens' Data for Private Purposes: Rethink Aadhaar
The government’s vision to collate comprehensive, exhaustive data about every citizen and making it available for commercial use by private entities as stated in the budget document the Economic Survey 2018-19 is quite alarming, says Rethink Aadhaar. 
 
Here is what the Rethink Aadhaar Campaign says about interlinking and selling of citizens’ data for private purposes…
 
Chapter 4 of the Economic Survey (a budget document laid before parliament)’s chapter 4 ‘Data “Of the People, By the People, 04 For the People’ argues for expanding collection and interlinking of comprehensive data on citizens, violating Supreme Court judgments on privacy and Aadhaar overturning constitutional requirements for transparency from governments, not citizens. 
 
It makes a case for integrating citizens’ data for commercial purposes even when no legal framework provides for this. It assumed  privacy concerns will be taken care of by a forthcoming privacy law and data protection law which have been in fact been pending on the drawing board for years. 
 
Already, in the government’s coercive and callous interlinking of Aadhaar in existing databases, we have witnessed alarming data leaks that have had substantial financial implications and legal consequences for ordinary citizens. It makes blanket assertions that technology measures would protect privacy in the future, claiming “technology has largely kept pace to mitigate” (data leaks) when the government is yet to provide any redressal or compensation to those who have suffered from data leaks.
 
It states the example of how Telangana has integrated multiple points of information and data on thousands of its residents and their relatives in its ‘Samagra’ without stating how this was done in the absence of privacy and data protection laws. The document argues for using Aadhaar numbers to create a health registry to sell sensitive medical data to commercial entities for a profit. It argues “people can always opt out of divulging data to the government where possible”, but so far the government has put all its energies in coercing citizens to give their data, cutting them off from essential services if they do not provide data. 
 
It erroneously claims that increased data collection and integrating databases will reduce inclusion errors and rectify exclusion errors. This is a wrong claim to make. In the past few years, both UPA and NDA governments have pushed for Aadhaar enrolment by claiming this will help improve welfare services. This has led to denial of wage payments, food grains, vital social security pensions to thousands of individuals, especially the elderly and those who work with their hands manual workers, who face faulty data entry, network errors, servers and network errors, and biometric authentication failures because of changes while working with their hands over time.
 
Since 2017, the Right to Food Campaign has recorded more than 40 deaths when the most vulnerable got cut from any social security in the fault-ridden transition to Aadhaar. One such death was recorded in Jharkhand’s Latehar last month when an Adivasi farmer 65 year old Ramcharan Munda died after he was denied food rations for three months. The government has failed to act responsibly and provide any relief and voluntary alternatives for those facing such problems because of its manic focus on data linking. Yet, in this new document it again pushes for more of the same.
 
It is worrying that the budget document of the vision for the Indian economy once again states two different standards of privacy rights for India’s poor and rich. It declares: “care must also be taken to not impose the elite’s preference of privacy on the poor, who care for a better quality of living the most”, thus imposing its own assumptions that the poor can do with fewer privacy protections than the rich. It falsely pits welfare rights against privacy rights. 
 
Justice DY Chandrachud had warned against this in the Aadhaar judgement, noting: "The refrain that the poor need no civil and political rights and are concerned only with economic well being has been utilised through history to wreak the most egregious violations of human rights." In fact the vulnerable poor need stronger privacy rights at a time of heightened profiling of citizens based on their religion and caste for political purposes, as seen with the NRC in Assam, and lynchings all over the country. They challenge state authorities to assert for their rights over land, resources, social welfare and take part in demonstrations. 
 
Further advocating for unchecked collecting and collating of data on citizens will only lead to further undermining of our rights, and to worse levels of surveillance and data breaches.
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Aadhaar: No Individual Can Be Compelled to Provide the UID Number Unless Provided By Law
The Cabinet has approved the Aadhaar and Other Laws (Amendment) Bill, 2019, which establishes that no individual can be compelled to provide proof of Aadhaar number unless provided by law, and the Aadhaar number on voluntary basis shall be accepted as KYC document.
 
The Bill replaces Aadhaar and Other Laws (Amendment) Ordinance, 2019, and it will be introduced in the scheduled Parliament session in June. 
 
Claiming the Bill people-friendly and citizen-centric, the government said it will enable UIDAI to have a more robust mechanism to serve public interest and act as a deterrent against the misuse of Aadhaar. 
 
"Subsequent to this amendment, no individual shall be compelled to provide proof of possession of Aadhaar number or undergo authentication for the purpose of establishing his identity unless it is so provided by a law made by Parliament", said a statement by the government.
 
The Bill will help public, in opening bank accounts, to use of Aadhaar number for authentication on voluntary basis as acceptable KYC document.
 
The amendment will allow voluntary use of Aadhaar number in physical or electronic form by authentication or offline verification with the consent of Aadhaar number holder. And, it also allows the use of twelve-digit Aadhaar number and its alternative virtual identity to conceal the actual Aadhaar number of an individual. The Bill provides option to children, who are Aadhaar number holders, to cancel it on attaining adult-age.
 
In a major improvement, the Bill will permit the entities to perform authentication only when they are compliant with the standards of privacy and security specified by the Authority, and the authentication is permitted under any law made by Parliament.
 
"Prevents denial of services for refusing to, or being unable to, undergo authentication; Provides for establishment of Unique Identification Authority of India Fund; and provides for civil penalties, its adjudication, appeal thereof in regard to violations of Aadhaar Act and provisions by entities in the Aadhaar ecosystem", said the statement by the government.
 
The Bill is strengthening of the Aadhaar Act as per the directions of the Supreme Court and recommendations of former Justice B.N.Srikrishna Committee.
 
Disclaimer: Information, facts or opinions expressed in this news article are presented as sourced from IANS and do not reflect views of Moneylife and hence Moneylife is not responsible or liable for the same. As a source and news provider, IANS is responsible for accuracy, completeness, suitability and validity of any information in this article.
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COMMENTS

Ishwar Dass

1 month ago

Rajkumari

SARAH BERT SEVER

1 month ago

Does that mean to file taxes, an Indian resident, does not need Aadhar?

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