Salary can’t be withheld for not linking bank account with Aadhaar: Bombay High Court

Staff Reporter
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Mumbai: The Bombay High Court on Monday slammed the Union government for not paying the salary of an employee from 2016 as he had not linked his bank account with his Aadhaar card. The high court, while referring to the ruling of the Supreme Court striking down several conditions of Aadhaar, directed the government to pay the arrears of the employee before January 8.

A division bench of Justices Abhay Oka and Sandeep Shinde, said, “We are surprised with the stand of the government. We fail to understand how the government can take a stand that salary will not be given to an employee only because s/he has not linked their Aadhaar card with their salary account.” The bench questioned the decision of the government to withhold the salary of Ramesh Purale, who works as a chargeman with the Bombay Port Trust.

According to Purale, he received a communication forwarded to him by the union ministry of shipping in December 2015. The ministry had directed him to link his Aadhaar card with his salary account. He, however, refused to link his account, citing his fundamental right to privacy. “As I refused to link my account with Aadhaar card, I stopped getting my salary and it has been over two years now, I am yet to receive my payment,” Purale told the bench.

Purale also furnished the copy of the SC ruling in matters pertaining the constitutional validity of Aadhaar card, wherein the apex court had held it optional and not mandatory to link Aadhaar with bank accounts.  Having heard the submission and going through the judgment of the SC, Justice Oka said, “A bare perusal of the judgment makes it clear that it is not mandatory to link accounts with Aadhaar card.

Thus, we are of the prima facie view that the government cannot withhold the salary of an employee only because they have not linked their accounts.”The judges, accordingly, directed the government to pay the pending arrears to Purale before January 8, when the bench would hear the final arguments in the matter.