Wednesday, April 24, 2024

Delhi High Court directs UIDAI, RBI, Google India to respond to PIL against unauthorised storage of Aadhaar, bank information by Google Pay

The Delhi High Court has asked the Unique Identification Authority of India (UIDAI), RBI and Google India Digital Services Private Ltd to respond to a PIL, which alleged unauthorised access, use and storage of users’ Aadhaar and banking information by Google Pay.

The Division Bench of Chief Justice D.N. Patel and Justice Jyoti Singh on Wednesday passed the direction on a PIL filed by Abhijit Mishra, highlighting the grave issue of unauthorised access, use and storing of the Aadhaar and banking information of Indian citizens by Google Pay as a sheer violation of Article 21 of the Indian Constitution, Aadhaar Act 2016, Payments and Settlement Systems Act, 2007 and Banking Regulations Act, 1949.

According to the petition, the terms and conditions of Google Pay explicitly state that the company will be storing the payment instruction details of the parties, including bank accounts and Aadhaar details, even though no permission to undertake such a practice has been issued by the authorities concerned.

The petitioner alleged that Google Pay is not registered or licensed under the aegis of the Payments and Settlement Systems Act 2007 to conduct the business of payments and transactions. Google Pay is conducting the business of payment transfers and transaction processing in violation of Banking Laws (Banking Regulations Act 1949) and Payments Laws (Payments and Settlements Systems Act 2007).

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He further pointed out a statement in the terms and conditions of Google Play that the android app store will be collecting, storing and sharing the bank account details or a user’s Aadhar card details and appealed to the bench to start legal proceedings for the responsible parties in this breach of privacy.

It is submitted that the Government of India (Department of Revenue, Ministry of Finance) in consultation, aid and advise of Respondent No 2 (Reserve Bank of India) has brought the amendments to the Prevention of Money Laundering (Maintenance of Records) Rules, 2005 in exercise of the powers conferred under the aegis of Section 73 of the Prevention of Money Laundering Act, 2002 (15 of 2003). It is submitted that by the virtue of the said rules, the Aadhaar number seeding of banking information is made mandatory and statutory. Hence, it is submitted that the banking details of a citizen has essential information element of Aadhaar details. 

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It is further submitted that the Reserve Bank of India has duly linkage of Aadhaar number to bank account is mandatory under the Prevention of Money Laundering (Maintenance of Records) Second Amendment Rules, 2017 and these rules have statutory force. 

The plea referred to Sections 23 and 24 of the Indian Contract Act 1872. The terms and conditions & contract of Google Pay is void ab initio by the virtue of the unlawful considerations which are forbidden by the law. Google Pay is not competent to get into the agreement with the public at large for being a facilitator of the payments transactions as it is not a registered and licensed entity by the Reserve Bank of India under the aegis of Payments and Settlement Systems Act 2007 and Banking Regulations Act 1949.

The PIL sought direction to the UIDAI to initiate action against Google Pay under Sections 23A, 28, 29, 38 and 43 of the Aadhaar Act 2016 for unauthorised collection, storage and usage of Aadhaar information of the citizens. The bench fixed November 8 as the next date of hearing.


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