The All India Bank Officers Confederation (AIBOC), the largest body representing over 3,25,000 officers, opposed the Centre’s move making Aadhaar mandatory and forcing bank officers to do Aadhar seeding. When the matter is subjudice in the Supreme Court, “the urgency of the government in its implementation is uncalled for and against the true spirit of democracy,” AIBOC said in a statement.
The body said banks are already reeling under acute shortage of staff and the employees and officers are overburdened. In the implementation of the Pradhan Mantri Jan Dhan Yojana, public sector banks and regional rural banks have opened 29.13 crore accounts as against 96 lakh accounts by the private banks. In Mudra loans, the former has disbursed Rs 79,687 crores against the latter’s Rs 38,772 crores. More than Rs 62.58 lakh Mudra loans have been processed by the public sector and regional rural banks. Bhim (an initiative to make India cashless), Jeevan Jyothi (a government-backed life insurance scheme), Jyoti Bima, Suraksha Bima (a government-backed accident insurance scheme) and Sovereign Gold Bond are some of the other schemes public sector banks have been made to use their resources without any return, the body said.
The AIBOC has now opposed the Centre’s move following a direction to banks to complete Aadhaar seeding and also open Aadhaar enrolment centres in its branches. “It is understood that government has instructed the banks to ask its staff and officers to work on holidays to complete the task. The responsibility for any mistake will be on the officer who authorises and he or she is not trained for the same. Moreover, SC has given an interim order saying that Aadhaar should not be made mandatory. The banks should not be taken to task when final judgement comes in the light of the Right to Privacy judgment. At a time when the resources of the public sector banks are under severe strain and under closer public scrutiny, employing their resources on Aadhaar seeding will further constrain Public Sector Banks in their efforts of recovery of Non-performing Assets (NPAs), which eventually will further deteriorate the health of the banks besides attracting negative opinion among the public,” the statement said, adding that Banks have not been paid any reimbursement for these expenses. “The officers and staff have also not been paid compensation for working on holidays and for late sitting.”
On August 11, 2015, the SC passed an interim order stating that the Aadhaar card was to be used only for the PDS scheme and for the LPG distribution scheme, a clear mandate to not to be used by the government for any other services. “This was later echoed by a constitution bench of the Supreme Court,” said the statement.
The AIBOC statement added that bank customers are also in “panic mode as they are being bombarded by ominous messages, emails and calls from banks about the dire consequences they could face if they fail to link their Aadhaar number to their bank accounts before the December 31 deadline. Banks have gone into an overdrive to get their account holders to furnish the Aadhaar details – and desperate to head off a situation where their branches might end up being swamped by queues and frantic customers as the deadline nears,” AIBOC said. “Even small account holders are not left and there is a panic amongst the poor population holding basic savings accounts to meet their day to day needs,” said the statement.
The bank officers’ body reminded that the government and the SC have contradicting stands in the issue. “In its fight against tax evasion, the Centre has made it mandatory to quote the Aadhaar number for opening bank accounts and also made Aadhaar compulsory for 135 schemes (of 35 ministries) including free cooking gas (LPG) to poor women, kerosene and fertiliser subsidy, targeted public distribution system (PDS) and MGNREGA. However, the Supreme Court has restricted usage of Aadhaar to six schemes where the government provides benefits or subsidy to individuals,” the statement said.