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The Bombay High Court has directed the government to pay salary arrears to a port trust employee which has been withheld since 2016 on the grounds that he had not linked his account with his Aadhaar.

A division bench comprising of justices A S Oka and S K Shinde said the salary of Ramesh Purale, working as a chargeman with the Mumbai Port Trust, cannot be withheld over failure to link his bank account with his Aadhaar card. The Union Ministry of Shipping had in December 2015 sent him a letter asking Purale to link the two but he refused to do so, citing his fundamental right to privacy.  Six months later, he stopped getting his salary following his petitioned the High Court. In July 2016, he stopped getting his salary following which he petitioned the HC.

The Supreme 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. Earlier this month, Purale filed an application in his petition where he relied on this judgement.

“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,”  the court said and asked the government to pay his ful pending salary arrears while posting the petition for final hearing in January 8 next year.

—India Legal Bureau

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