Supreme court order gives techies 'Aadhaar' to not share unique ID

Employees are citing the SC order from last September to avoid linking Aadhaar to EPFO.

BCCL
An EPFO official said the body would introduce a new facility allowing employees to create UAN on their own and seed it with Aadhaar.
BENGALURU: A clutch of multinational technology companies has turned to the government for help after their employees refused to link Aadhaar numbers with provident fund accounts.

At a meeting with the Karnataka labour minister in Bengaluru last week, an executive of tech major HP said the company was struggling to implement the mandate of the Employees’ Provident Fund Organisation (EPFO) to link the unique identification number with individual PF accounts.

Scores of employees were citing the Supreme Court judgment that said any such linking is optional, he pointed out.


“Employees are refusing to give Aadhaar numbers for PF accounts. The EPFO, on the other hand, wants us to collect the numbers,” the executive said at the meeting. “We are in a fix. This is happening across companies,” he added.

Last month, the Bombay High Court granted interim relief from prosecution to JP Morgan Services India Pvt Ltd for not sharing the Aadhaar and bank details of its employees with the EPFO. The company had moved a division bench seeking to quash a criminal complaint filed against it by the EPFO for not furnishing the details.

Companies such as JP Morgan and Oracle have been sending reminders to employees to link Aadhaar numbers with their PF accounts, said employees at these firms.
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HP, Oracle and JP Morgan did not respond to queries from ET.

Karnataka labour minister Suresh Kumar told ET that he would take up the issue with the Union labour ministry.

“An IT company has flagged the issue to us. However, the PF department does not come under the ambit of the state government. So, we have decided to write to the Union labour ministry and draw its attention to the problem,” he said.

In September last year, the Constitution Bench of the Supreme Court, while upholding the constitutionality of the Aadhaar Act, had said the private ecosystem should not use the unique ID for authentication. It also said it cannot be made mandatory for the delivery of several services, including pension.
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On its part, the EPFO points to a notification by the Unique Identity Authority of India (UIDAI) allowing the use of Aadhaar-based authentication for PF accounts. Additional central PF commissioner Pankaj Raman cited a November 2018 notice on the matter.

Technology sector employees told ET that companies have warned of disciplinary action if they did not link Aadhaar numbers to PF accounts.
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Software professional Elisha Ebenezer has moved the Madras High Court challenging the notification mandating linking of Aadhaar to Universal Account Number (UAN) for availing pension and provident fund benefits.

“EPFO’s notification is unconstitutional and against the directives of the SC in the Aadhaar case,” he said. “My employer is unable to credit PF contributions as the EPFO has barred the company from creating a PF account in the absence of Aadhaar,” he claimed. Ebenezer declined to identify his employer.

An EPFO official said the body would introduce a new facility allowing employees to create UAN on their own and seed it with Aadhaar. “This will remove apprehensions among employees as they would not have to part with their Aadhaar number,” he said.

The official, who refused to be identified, added that the EPFO does not keep a database of Aadhaar numbers and that it is only used to authenticate credentials of employees on the UIDAI database.
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