Seeking to put an end to the confusion, the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) on Saturday issued a clarification on the linking of Aadhaar to bank accounts, saying that it is a mandatory requirement.
In the notification, the RBI said, “Some news items have appeared in a section of the media quoting a reply to a Right to Information Act application that Aadhaar number linkage with bank accounts is not mandatory.”
Various media reports had suggested that the RBI had replied to an RTI query saying that the linking of the 12-digit biometric number with bank account is not mandatory yet.”
The Reserve Bank clarified: “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 1 June, 2017.”
The RBI further said that the rules issued by them have statutory force and “banks have to implement them without awaiting further instructions.”
According to reports, in the RTI application filed by Moneylife India, the RBI had replied: “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 last date to link Aadhaar and bank accounts is 31 December, 2017.
The linking is a process over and above the Know Your Customer (KYC) norms already followed by the banks.
Finance Minister Arun Jaitley in August had said that 524 million Aadhaar numbers had been linked to 736.2 million bank accounts in India.
Banks accounts in India are already linked to the tax-related Permanent Account Number (PAN), which is mandatory.
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.
The RTI query further asked whether RBI had Supreme Court’s permission to link Aadhaar with bank accounts. In its reply, RBI said it had not filed any such petition before the Supreme Court.