Ravi Shankar Prasad has claimed that the government will make linking driving licences with Aadhar mandatory.

Ravi Shankar Prasad has claimed that the government will make linking driving licences with Aadhar mandatory.(Photo: Shruti Mathur/The Quint)


Well hello there Gullible Citizen. What brings you to this godforsaken RTO office today?

Oh, Mr Illegal Tout, I didn’t see you there. Still hanging around asking for money to do exactly what can be done legally without paying any extra money, I take it?

Of course. It just makes everyone more comfortable, doing things this way. Can you imagine going to the actual counters to speak to the RTO officers and not paying a bribe, rather than paying a shady guy outside to do that for you instead?

That does sound terrible, yes. To come back to your first question, I’m here to link my driving licence to my Aadhaar number.

Why on earth would you be linking your driver’s licence to Aadhaar?

Arrey, didn’t you see what the Law & IT Minister said? This Ravi Shankar Prasad was at the Indian Science Congress, and said the government is going to soon bring a law which will make it mandatory to link Aadhaar with driving licences.

But why?

What do you mean, ‘why’? It’s very logical. Currently, you can get duplicate licence, even if you kill someone when driving under the influence of alcohol, all you have to do is use a fake name. But you can’t change your biometrics, so once Aadhaar is linked, people won’t be able to get duplicate licences anymore.

Let me get this straight. We have such a big problem with duplicate licences that we need to get everyone to link Aadhaar to driving licences?

Obviously it’s a big problem, why else would the law ministry be making laws like this otherwise? I’m sure they have some well-researched figures and statistics to back up the need for this, like a World Bank report or something.

Something tells me that’s not probably true. In any case, it’s not as though the government can make linking driving licences to Aadhaar mandatory.

What do you mean they can’t make it mandatory?

Not after the Supreme Court’s judgment last year, they can’t.

I don’t remember the Supreme Court saying anything about driving licences. They only said it can’t be used for mobile numbers and bank accounts. Everything else is fine.

Eh listen, ‘everything else’, is not fine. If it’s a benefit or subsidy, or something coming out of the consolidated fund of India, only then it’s fine. Private sector linkage is not fine (unless their new amendment makes it through the Rajya Sabha). And government also can’t make it mandatory for things unless there is a law which doesn’t violate the right to privacy. Which means it needs to satisfy the test of proportionality.

So why would this not be proportionate?

Didn’t you see what the Supreme Court said about bank accounts and mobile numbers?

About how making Aadhaar mandatory for them was wrong since it presumed everyone was doing something wrong, that there was no necessity to do this. The court also held that even if the government has a legitimate purpose in mind, there needs to be a balancing test to see whether the benefits outweigh the invasion of privacy, and that there would be less intrusive ways to do this.

The same reasoning would apply to driving licences as well, no? Is the reasoning provided by the Law Minister not a presumption of illegality on everyone’s part? Is there genuinely a problem with people creating duplicate licences with fake names?

And even if there is, why not just have better background checks? Why not just ensure any ID submitted is properly verified? Why should we all have to go through the hassle of linking Aadhaar to our licences? Why should we be linking yet another aspect of our lives to this goddamn number?

You’re awfully well-informed for an illegal tout, you know.

If you earn a living in a dubious manner, it’s kind of essential to know what’s legal and what isn’t.

That makes sense, I guess. But coming back to this whole driving licence thingy, the Supreme Court didn’t actually say anything about Aadhaar and licences specifically. From what you’re saying, this would probably fail to satisfy the test used to strike down linking of other stuff with Aadhaar. So technically the government can make it mandatory, even if the court later strikes it down, right?

Well, sure. But that would be dishonest, and disingenuous, since it is blatantly obvious that this would be illegal.

You pretend that your services are essential and that without you people can’t get licences. You’re a fine one to talk about being dishonest and disingenuousness.

Yeah, but I’m not the government of a country, am I? What I do isn’t going to invade the privacy of millions of people. What I do isn’t going to lead to wastage of time and money to fight this battle in the courts only to lose. What I do isn’t a sneaky attempt to undermine a court ruling that was meant to stop me from linking Aadhaar to everything under the sun without any good reason. What I do isn’t going to help a bunch of shadowy corporations linked to people who ‘volunteered’ to help create Aadhaar and now want to make lots of money out of it.

Isn’t the government supposed to be better than that?

Wow, you really don’t like Aadhaar. But I know why, this is because linking Aadhaar to driving licences will affect your business. You won’t be able to do your thing if everyone has to link their licences to Aadhaar.

Oh please! Have you not seen how many fake Aadhaar rackets there have been? Don’t you remember how a dog got an Aadhaar number? And Lord Hanuman? If someone is trying to get a new licence because they killed someone, I’m sure they’ll find a way to get past this.

Worst case, all they have to do is bribe an RTO officer in some random back-of- beyond place to override the mismatch or something – which is, of course, right up my alley. If anything, I stand to gain from this nonsense!

Oh dear, I hadn’t thought about that. But I’m sure it’s the same situation for the government also. Maybe they haven’t realised how this would be illegal, that it wouldn’t actually have any benefit.

And that makes it ok? Shouldn’t they be running this by their lawyers? Shouldn’t they be conducting proper studies before coming up with ridiculous plans? Come on.

And trust me, even a cursory check from a legal or logical standpoint would have told them they can’t do this. So either Ravi Shankar Prasad was making the whole thing up, or they are going ahead with this despite knowing full well it’s unlawful.

Ah well, it’s not as though we can do anything about it. It’s not as though they’ll conduct a public consultation or have a proper debate in Parliament or anything

Yeah… But if they do make it happen, you know who to contact, right?

Oh yes, I’ll approach you only, don’t worry. See you then!