A new turn in the Aadhaar Bill could prove to be a game changer for the citizens and Government of India. The process of the Aadhaar Scheme had begun 6 years ago when the UPA Government was in power. The Aadhaar Bill, 2010, was introduced in Parliament in December of that year. Many citizens have flocked to get their unique identification cards made. Some have been successful while others have still not received their Aadhaar numbers.
Why the Aadhaar Scheme is Important?
In a country where there is a vast section of the population who are economically weak, the government offers many subsidies and contributions to the help uplift this sector. But much of it is issued by the Central Government which then trickles down a series of middlemen and finally winding up in fake and ghost accounts. A significant percentage of the subsidies given disappears. After issuing more than 750 million Aadhaar cards, the government sought to link the Aadhaar number to the bank accounts of those receiving subsidies. It was suggested that the Aadhaar linking be made mandatory in order to minimize fraud and ensure that the subsidies reached the intended recipients. Through Aadhaar linking, the Government of India has saved tons of money by eliminating all the accounts that were fake, duplicate, ghost and fraudulent. However, making Aadhaar cards mandatory for any public service is still not feasible yet as many people have not got their Aadhaar cards, or have not had access to facilities through which they can apply. But the overall picture of this scheme is to eliminate fraud and corruption and provide a completely transparent procedure for all public services and benefits.
The Aadhaar Bill 2010
The bill was titled “National Identification Authority of India Bill, 2010.” Any person residing in India could apply for an Aadhaar card. Its purpose was to establish a system of identification numbers to every resident of the country. This would ultimately help these individuals gain access to benefits and services offered by the government. The 2010 Bill called for biometric information which would give each Aadhaar card holder a unique identification that could not be tampered with.
The Aadhaar Bill 2016
In March 2016, the Lok Sabha passed the Aadhaar Bill, 2016. The bill now bears the title of “Aadhaar (Targeted Delivery of Financial and Other Subsidies, Benefits and Services) Act, 2016”. In the new bill, a number of improvements, additions and deletions were made to enhance the effectiveness of the Aadhaar scheme. The Aadhaar number will stand as identification for any person and for any purpose. Now those who wish to get an Aadhaar card must be a resident of India for at least 182 days. To receive subsidies or services, individuals may be required to present their Aadhaar number. If they have applied for the card and have not yet received it, then other forms of identification may be accepted.
Details of the Aadhaar Bill 2016
Clause 2 (V) - Who can obtain an Aadhaar Number?
- Any person residing for at least 182 days in India. The 182 days will be calculated based on the year preceding the Aadhaar application.
Clause 7/Clause 57 and Clause 9 - Uses of Aadhaar Number
- The Aadhaar number will be used to verify the identity of any person who is receiving subsidies or services from the government.
- It can be used by public and private entities to verify the identity of any person.
- The Aadhaar number will not give the holder any right to citizenship or domicile status.
Clause 2(n)/Clause 2(d) and Clause 32(3) - Information maintained by the UID Authority
- The UID Authority will maintain identity information which includes the following:
- Biometrics which includes iris scan and fingerprint
- Demographic information which includes name, date of birth and address
- Aadhaar number
- Information such as race, caste, religion and so on will not be maintained
- Aadhaar information for verification of identity will be given on request. The UID Authority will collect the information of the entity requesting for the verification, the time of the request and the response. The purpose for verifying the person’s identity will not be collected.
Clause 3(2) and Clause 8(2),(3) - Enrolment and Authentication
- When a person enrolls for the Aadhaar number, they shall be informed about the uses of the information they provide, the recipients of the information and the right to access information.
- Any entity requesting a person’s identity information has to first obtain the consent of the person. The information will be submitted only to the Central Data Repository to authenticate the identity of a person.
- Any entity requesting for identity information must inform the person about the request, about the sharing of that information and the uses of the information once received. They must also be informed about alternative identification proofs.
Clause 12/Clause 12 and Clause 23(2)(k) - The UID Authority
- In the Authority, there shall be one chairperson, a chief executive officer and two part-time members.
- The people of the Authority must have at least 10 years experience and knowledge in matters of law, governance, technology and so on.
- The revenue that is collected by this Authority will be credited to the Consolidated Fund of India.
- There is no committee set up to analyse the use of Aadhaar numbers.
Clause 29(1),(4) and Clause 8(4) - Restrictions on Sharing Aadhaar Information
- Any biometric information used for enrolment and authentication cannot be used for any other purpose. Biometrics will be stored electronically. The provisions of the Information Technology Act, 2000, will apply. This information will not be shared with anyone.
- Aadhaar number and biometric information will not be shared, published or displayed in public, except if there is a circumstance specified by the regulations.
- Entities requesting for a person’s Aadhaar authentication will not be provided with biometric data.
- Entities requesting for a person’s Aadhaar authentication can use the information received only for the purpose for which consent has been given by the individual.
Clause 38/Clause 41/Clause 42/Clause 47(1) - Offences and Penalties
- For unauthorised access to the Central Identities Data Repository and for revealing such information, a person can face imprisonment for up to 3 years plus a fine of Rs.10 lakhs or more.
- For entities who receive Aadhar information upon request for the authentication of an individual, if the information is used for purposes other than specified, the prison sentence can stretch up to 3 years and/or a fine of Rs. 1 lakh is payable.
- For offences for which a penalty has not yet been specified, the person can face up to 1 year in prison and/or a fine of up to Rs.25,000. In case of companies, the fine can stretch up to Rs.1 lakh.
- Only complaints made by the Authority will be recognised in court.
Clause 54(2)(c),(u) - Power of the UID Authority to make regulations
- The UID Authority can lay out conditions for the acceptance of the Aadhaar number as identity proof of any individual.
- Regulations can be set by the UID Authority for the sharing of identity information that is collected or created under this scheme, except biometric data.
Comparison of the Aadhaar Bill 2010 and Aadhaar Bill 2016
|Who can apply||Any person residing in India||Any person residing in India for at least 182 days in the year preceding the application|
|Biometrics||Unspecified biometrics||Biometric data is defined as the photograph, iris scan, fingerprints, demographic and other biological information|
|UID Authority||There shall be a chairperson of the UID Authority||The Chairperson must have at least 10 years experience and knowledge in matters of law, governance, technology and so on|
|Uses||There was no specific uses of the Aadhaar number||The Aadhaar number can be used to verify a person’s identity. It will serve as an ID for government subsidies and services. In the absence of the number, other means of identification will be accepted|
|Who can use the information||There was no specification in this matter||Any public or private entity is allowed to request for the Aadhaar information to verify a person’s identity|
|Penalties||Penalty for unauthorized access to the Central Identities Data Repository was up to Rs.1 crore||The penalty is now up to 3 years imprisonment and/or a fine of Rs.10 lakhs|
|There was no provision for wrongful use of information||If the Aadhaar information is used for any other purpose except authentication, the requesting entity can face up to 1 year imprisonment and/or a fine of Rs.25,000 to Rs.1 lakh|
|For offences that have not been defined under the Act, the penalty was a prison sentence of up to 3 years||The penalty is now imprisonment up to 1 year and/or a fine of Rs.25,000. In case of companies, the fine is Rs.1 lakh|
|Revenue||The revenue shall be collected and credited to the Consolidated Fund of India, and it is mandatory to transfer the full amount back to the UIDAI||The revenue shall be collected and credited to the Consolidated Fund of India|
|Review||There was an Identity Review Committee that was setup to study the usage of Aadhaar numbers, its extent and patterns||There is no system now|
Recently, the Aadhaar BIll, 2016, was moved to be a money bill. The bill was passed and will now provide statutory grounding for the UIDAI. The Aadhaar system will be used by the Central and State Government to distribute subsidies and services. The Aadhaar programme is an ambitious project that aims at financial inclusion of all residents of India while eliminating corruption, fraud and unnecessary expenditure of government funds.