The Bombay High Court on Monday questioned the Centre’s decision of withholding the salary of a port trust employee since 2016 on the grounds that he had not linked his salary account with his Aadhaar.
A division bench of justices A S Oka and S K Shinde while hearing a petition filed by Ramesh Purale, working as a chargeman with the Mumbai Port Trust, said his salary cannot be withheld over failure to link his bank account with his Aadhaar card.
Purale had challenged a letter issued to him by the Union Ministry of Shipping in December 2015, asking him to link his his bank account, in which his salary was being credited, with his Aadhaar card .
He, however, refused to do so citing his fundamental right to privacy. From July 2016, he stopped getting his salary following which he petitioned the HC. Earlier this month, Purale filed an application in his petition where he relied on the Supreme Court’s judgement of September 26 on the Aadhaar card issue.
The high court Monday questioned the Union government as to how it could take such a stand that it would not give salary to its employees because their Aadhaar card is not linked to their salary accounts.
“How can you (Centre) take a stand that salary will not be given to an employee because his Aadhaar card is not linked to the salary account?” Justice Oka asked.
“We have perused the apex court’s judgement. Prime facie, we are of the view that the petitioner’s salary cannot be withheld on the ground that there is failure to link Aadhaar card with the bank account,” he said.
The bench directed the government to pay the arrears to the petitioner and posted the petition for final hearing on January 8. The apex court, in its verdict in September, had declared that the Centre’s biometric identity project was constitutionally valid but limited the scope, ruling it is not mandatory for bank accounts, mobile connections or school admissions.