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THE NEWS

In order to make Aadhaar people friendly, the Union Cabinet has approved “The Aadhaar and Other Laws (Amendment) Bill, 2019” to replace the Aadhaar and Other Laws (Amendment) Ordinance, 2019.

BACKGROUND:

  • The Aadhaar and Other Laws (Amendment) Ordinance, 2019 was considered by the Cabinet in its meeting held on 28th February, 2019.
  • The Ordinance was promulgated by the President on 2nd March, 2019.
  • The Aadhaar and Other Laws (Amendment) Ordinance, 2019 amongst other things envisaged strengthening of the ‘Aadhaar Act’ as per the directions of the Supreme Court and recommendations of Justice B.N. Srikrishna (Retd) Committee.
  • The amendments proposed are the same as those contained in the Ordinance promulgated by President. The Bill will be introduced in the ensuing session of Parliament.

IMPORTANT FEATURES OF THE AMENDMENTS:

The salient features of the amendments are as given below:

  • Voluntary use of Aadhaar: The amended bill provides for voluntary use of Aadhaar number in physical or electronic form by authentication or offline verification with the consent of Aadhaar number holder.
  • Alternate virtual identity: Provides for use of twelve-digit Aadhaar number and its alternative virtual identity to conceal the actual Aadhaar number of an individual.
  • Option to cancel: Those children who are Aadhaar number holders will get the option to cancel their Aadhaar number on attaining the age of 18 years
  • Authentication ONLY under the law: It permits the entities to perform authentication only when they are compliant with the standards of privacy and security specified by the Authority; and the authentication is permitted under any law made by Parliament or is prescribed to be in the interest of State by the Central Government.
  • Authentication for KYC: It allows the use of Aadhaar number for authentication on a voluntary basis as an acceptable KYC document under the Telegraph Act, 1885 and the Prevention of Money-laundering Act, 2002.
  • Prohibition on use by private entities: The bill proposes deletion of section 57 of the Aadhaar Act relating to the use of Aadhaar by private entities.
  • No denial of services: Prevents denial of services for refusing to, or being unable to, undergo authentication.
  • UAIF: The bill provides for the establishment of the Unique Identification Authority of India Fund.
  • Punishable violations: Provides for civil penalties, its adjudication, appeal thereof in regard to violations of Aadhaar Act and provisions by entities in the Aadhaar ecosystem

UNDERSTANDING AADHAAR:

  • Aadhaar is a 12-digit unique identification number issued to every individual resident of India, by the Indian Government.
  • The Unique Identification Authority of India (UDAI) is responsible for managing Aadhaar numbers and Aadhaar identification cards.
  • As per the government’s estimates, the Aadhaar has covered 98 per cent of the adult population of India and as of 7th September last years, UIDAI has generated cards for 105.11 crore people.
  • UIDAI: The Unique Identification Authority of India (UIDAI) is a statutory authority established under the provisions of the Aadhaar (Targeted Delivery of Financial and Other Subsidies, Benefits and Services) Act, 2016 (“Aadhaar Act 2016”) on 12 July 2016 by the Government of India, under the Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology (MeitY).

HOW WOULD THE DECISION BENEFIT?

  • Serving public interest & restraining misuse: The decision would enable UIDAI to have a more robust mechanism to serve the public interest and restrain the misuse of Aadhar.
  • Stop on unnecessary authentication: Subsequent to this amendment, no individual shall be compelled to provide proof of possession of Aadhaar number or undergo authentication for the purpose of establishing his identity unless it is so provided by a law made by Parliament.
  • Authentication on a voluntary basis: For the convenience of the general public in the opening of bank accounts, the proposed amendments would allow the use of Aadhaar number for authentication on a voluntary basis as an acceptable KYC document.

CONCLUSION:

‘Unique makes you the only one’ is the central message of Aadhaar. Launched nearly a decade ago, Aadhaar has emerged as the world’s largest biometric identification program. To a great extent, it has changed the way how government services are delivered and prove to be a bridge between the government and the citizens. This 12-digit unique identification number has been transforming Indians’ life since then. With the bill, no individual would be compelled to provide proof of Aadhaar number unless provided by law Aadhaar number on a voluntary basis to be accepted as KYC document. It is expected to go a long way in meeting the people friendly and citizen-centric nature of Aadhaar.

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