The new  DADAGIRI is AadhaarGiri

Fight for privacy: G. Nagarjuna, Vickram Crishna and Kamayani Bali Mahabal at the meeting in Mumbai on Thursday.

‘Institutions cannot deny services if you do not link your Aadhaar’

Citizens should ensure they have evidence in cases when they are denied services over Aadhaar linkage, activists have said.

Petitioners in the Aadhaar case in the Supreme Court — Vickram Crishna, Kamayani Bali Mahabal and G. Nagarjuna — and other activists were speaking at a meeting in the city on Thursday.

Mr. Crishna advised citizens, “Ask officials who ask for Aadhaar to give it in writing that they have made such a demand.” The activists also urged people to go for such work in groups and not individually.

The meeting was attended by people who wanted to know how to counter persistent demands made by institutions to link their Aadhaar card to get services. “Banks have stopped asking us to link our Aadhaar to our accounts, but still insist on providing Aadhaar to open a new account. Two weeks ago, I wanted to open a new demat account in HDFC and SBI, linked to existing accounts in the banks. But they refused to do it without Aadhaar,” said an individual who wished to be anonymous.

On March 13, the SC indefinitely extended the deadline to link Aadhaar with mobile phones, tatkaal passports and for opening bank accounts till it pronounces its final verdict on the validity of the Aadhaar scheme.

“Extend means extend. There are no other connotations to that word, and the institutions cannot deny services if you do not link your Aadhaar,” said Mr. Crishna. The activists highlighted a host of issues with the government’s initiative, including the right to privacy, the robustness of biometric data protection, and how the unique identification number can be used for surveillance.

The petitioners said misuse of Aadhaar was rampant in rural areas, where people had little or no recourse but to link the unique identification number to avail basic services such as healthcare and subsidised food grain.

Akbarali Kharodia, a resident Vashi, said that in his native place in Gujarat, farmers had to link their Aadhaar to avail fertilisers at subsidised rates. “The point of sale devices at government shops have a fingerprint scanner and only those farmers whose Aadhaar is linked can get fertilisers. But half the people have not enrolled for Aadhaar,” he said.

Kamayani Bali Mahabal  said basic healthcare facilities such as a sonography now require Aadhaar, and that thousands of pregnant women were being denied this service.Ev