PMPML’s Aadhaar compulsion
Transport authority makes it mandatory to provide the unique identification number to issue passes
Even though the Supreme Court’s privacy verdict in August ruled out the possi bility of Aadhaar being made mandatory, the authorities at the Pune Mahanagar Parivahan Mahamandal Limited (PMPML) seem to think otherwise. PMPML has made it compulsory for commuters to submit their Aadhaar number in order to register for online services and also buy the monthly pass.The registration process does not complete if one does not provide the number, making it difficult for people to use the services. While the commuters have raised an objection to it, a few people are also being asked to submit a hard copy of their Aadhaar card when they visit the pass centres at bus stops.Since it was becoming difficult to physically visit the pass centers to take the monthly pass, commuter Sanjay Shitole logged onto the PMPML website, so that he could get it done online.But, when he tried to register himself on the portal, he was asked to submit his Aadhaar number. Thinking that it is not mandatory, he tried clicking on the register button, only to get a message that entering the Aadhaar number is mandatory.

“When I heard about the online registration option, I was more than happy, thinking that I will no longer have to spend time in the queue. But here, they asked me to submit the Aadhaar number. What if I don’t have one? Will I not be eligible to get the pass then?“ he questioned. He has even filed a complaint on the online portal of PMPML. But the only reply he has received till date is, “Sir, thanks for your suggestion. But the relevant documents are determined as a policy for the application for pass by PMPML.“

While he was asked to submit his Aadhaar number on online portal, people visiting the pass centres had to face similar woes. Another commuter said, “I was not carrying my Aadhaar card as no one had asked me to submit it earlier. But, the person distributing the passes at the centre asked me to submit a copy. As I failed to do so, he refused to give me the pass.“ Added Shitole, “They have never specified anywhere that the Aadhaar number is mandatory. But the staff has randomly started demanding it. Even they do not have clarity on whether it is mandatory or not.“

PMPML director Siddharth Shirole confirmed that the transport body has decided to make it mandatory for commuters to submit their Aadhaar numbers, saying, “We found that the passes were being misused, and there was duplication too. So, we decided to ask people to submit their Aadhaar numbers. That is the only identification on which the address is verified and there are no chances of duplication. We can help them get their Aadhaar cards done. But, if they do not have a card, then they will not get the pass.“

Objecting to the decision, Anupam Saraph, an international governance expert, said, “The Supreme Court has already clarified that the Aadhaar number can be demanded only in five categories that are specified. That too, it is voluntary. This is contempt of court and a violation of the rule of law.No one can make it compulsory. It is bad governance to require a number to make any service available. It should be provided irrespective of anyone’s identity. This is an indicator of dehumanising the government.“