Supreme court order gives techies Aadhaar to not share unique ID
A clutch of technology and back office companies have turned to the government for help after their employees refused to link Aadhaar numbers with provident fund accounts.
At a meeting with the state 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, he said, were citing the Supreme Court judgment that said any such linking is optional.
“Employees are claiming that they will not give Aadhaar number for EPF as per the Supreme Court order. The EPFO, on the other hand, wants us to collect the number,” said the executive at the meeting.
“We are in a fix. This is happening across companies,” he said.
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 their Aadhaar numbers with their EPF accounts, employees at these firms said. HP, Oracle and JP Morgan did not respond to queries from ET on the matter.
EPFO Points to a UIDAI Notification
Karnataka’s labour minister Suresh Kumar told ET that he would bring the issue to the attention of 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 tech sector employers are facing in Bengaluru,” 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 delivery of several services including pension.
On its part, the EPFO points to a notification by the Unique Identity Authority of India (UIDAI) allowing the use of Aadhaarbased authentication for employee provident funds accounts. Additional Central PF Commissioner Pankaj Raman of the Employee Provident Fund Office (EPFO) in New Delhi cited a November 2018 notice on the matter.
Technology sector employees who spoke to ET said companies have warned employees of taking disciplinary action against them if they do not link their Aadhaar numbers with PF accounts.
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 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.
Separately, an official in the EPFO said they would introduce a new facility that allows employees to create a universal account number (UAN) on their own and seed it with the Aadhaar. “This will remove apprehensions among employees as they do not have to part with the Aadhaar number,” he said.
The official, who did not want to be named, added that the EPFO does not keep a database of Aadhaar numbers but it is used only to authenticate the credentials of the employees on the UIDAI database.