Dhruv Desai

Dhruv DesaiMar 8

The title of this blog could have been how I fought with HDFC, or see how cool/brave/dude I am, that I got my things done. But that would be utterly false.

That would be an attempt of encroachment on real fights people have and would have demeaned cool/brave/dude in a big way.

Have you ever being coerced by a bank for submitting Aadhar, especially when you know How Aadhaar linkage can destroy banks?

I was coerced, but I took a stand of not submitting Aadhar, for opening a new bank account.


How would an institute bully?

Consider the following dialogues through judgmental lenses without giving any benefit of doubt:

“Saahab khaana khane gaye hai, kal aana”

“Areey, ye original chahiye… kal leke aao”

“Sir, pakka kal kar ke deta hu”

“Madam, vo documents jo apne submit kiye the, vo nahi mil rahe… vapis dena hoga”

These are, let’s say, unruly employees, not doing their job. Normal for India.

But, not long ago, various institutions started bullying in the name of Aadhar.

They went on a spree for getting your everything linked with Aadhar.

First, it started with the ploy of targeted benefits, then through blatant ways, the mandate of linking it to your mobile and bank account started making rounds.

The tone started becoming authoritative and rude, day by day — all the while, when

  • its constitutional validity
  • its robustness in light of security
  • its shady base of the unverified database
  • and several other aspects

were challenged in various courts.

The ground force of mobile companies and banks started pressurizing people for Aadhar linkage. It appeared, as if, that they got their share of being authoritative. Give Aadhar number or get lost.

In this scenario, I took a stand of not submitting Aadhar for opening a new bank account with HDFC.


Background:
I joined a company, which had HDFC as their banking vendor for salary accounts. The need of opening a bank account with HDFC raised from there.

Round 1:
Aug — Oct 2017 when the matter of Aadhar’s validity and its insistence, was sub judice

  1. Approached the HDFC branch and requested for opening account without Aadhar
  2. They denied
  3. Pointed them that on their website and on RBI website, nowhere it was written that it’s mandatory. Its online form for opening a new account also kept it optional
  4. They still insisted
  5. I asked for reason in writing
  6. Got reply that Prevention of Money Laundering Act (PMLA) prohibits us from going ahead.

Did some search under the guidance of my mentor, and found that in spite of PMLA, still there was a chain of documents that proved that I can open the account without Aadhar. Wrote to the concerned branch manager, and her seniors.

But, in between, though Hon. SC stayed the linking of Aadhar with the existing bank account, but for the new account, the ruling underlined compulsion, till the final ruling is done.

That brought me to back-foot, as now, the bank can show me the SC ruling, and rightfully deny.

Meanwhile, I was allowed to take salary through cheques, which was deposited in my other operational accounts.

Lesson learned — Write emails and start looping relevant hierarchy to build pressure.


Round 2:
Sep-Oct 2018. The matter was still sub judice but few things had changed.

The cases against Aadhar were heard in SC, and the results were expected.

A year had passed on taking salary through cheque.

The company allowed me to take salary by cheque for a year, but requested for the salary account, thereafter.

So thought of trying again.

  1. Went on HDFC website. Completed the form, uploaded passport as KYC document. The form was not mandating Aadhar.
  2. Received a phone call asking for PAN and Aadhar. I respectfully denied the latter. I also got a denial in return.
  3. Contacted their customer care on phone and twitter. Got the same response.
  4. Meanwhile, was receiving stray news that some banks are letting new account open without Aadhar, considering the matter of mandatory linking is sub judice and taking an undertaking that one will comply to the ruling, whatever that would be.
  5. Also, got to know that the Minister of State of Finance had replied in Loksabha that one can open an account without Aadhar.
  6. Got one input that writing directly to directors of HDFC bank can get things done.
  7. Writing to directors was a big thing for someone like me. Took 2-3 days for drafting and clicking send button. Crux as below.

“I am sure that the board of directors is aware of the case of Aadhar being mandatory for bank account,mobile phones and various other aspects is in progress in the Supreme Court of India.

And, as per the latest ruling of Honorable Supreme Court and an answer in Lokshabha by Shri Shiv Pratap Shukla, Minister of State in Ministry of Finance, submitting Aadhar is not mandatory, till the judgement is pronounced.

In this scenario, HDFC bank denying to open the bank account without Aadhar is disregarding Honorable Supreme Court and the clear guidance of Ministry of Finance.

I request the board of members to please direct the branch to help me with opening of the bank account without submitting Aadhar number. ”


A grievance officer got in touch with me. He took around a month to revert and directed me to a nearby branch.

The branch manager again tried if I can give Aadhar, although the tone was mild as the directors were involved. After my denial, he got approval from their compliance team, and finally, the account was operational.

All of this was around a week before the SC judgement that nullified the mandatory Aadhar to almost everything.


Big lesson learnt — No institution is big enough to stand against, if your trail of thought of conviction is strong and backed by facts.


One of the many articles, which helped me take a stand against Aadhar — How Aadhaar linkage can destroy banks

If you are interested in knowing more on why i am resisting Aadhar, or how can you resist Aadhar, drop an email to dhruvdesaai@gmail.com