In a landmark decision, the Orissa High Court has instructed the state government to collaborate with banks and the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) to implement ‘facial biometric identification systems’ at ATMs. This directive aims to deter individuals from utilizing ATMs for illicit purposes by facilitating their identification.
A bench comprising justices Sangam Kumar Sahoo and Chittaranjan Dash noted that many ATM users deliberately conceal their identities while conducting transactions. They observed, “We observe that in numerous instances, individuals are conducting ATM transactions while obscuring their faces or employing other methods to conceal their identities. Consequently, if bank authorities take appropriate measures to install facial biometrics identification procedures at ATMs when users approach the ATM, the system would prompt the user to present their face to the camera for identification.”
The court further highlighted the potential of ATM security cameras to monitor and record potential ‘skimming operations’, where criminals attach devices to ATMs to steal cardholder information.
The bench emphasized, “If an individual steals an ATM PIN (Personal Identification Number) and utilizes the card to withdraw funds or conduct any transaction, the transaction can be recorded, aiding in the identification of the individual, particularly in cases where money is illegally withdrawn using ATM cards.”
This directive was issued in response to a habeas corpus petition filed by a father concerning the disappearance of his minor daughter in the Bhadrak district. Authorities informed the police that a man had been seen withdrawing money from his wife’s bank account in the Kendrapara district, but his identity remained concealed due to his face covering.
The Orissa High Court’s mandate underscores the growing emphasis on security measures to safeguard ATM users and deter criminal activities. The implementation of facial recognition systems is expected to enhance transparency and accountability in ATM transactions, contributing to a safer and more secure banking environment.