Cabinet clears voluntary use of Aadhaar as identity proof

  1. The Union Cabinet has approved the promulgation of an Ordinance to make amendments to the Aadhaar Act 2016, Prevention of Money Laundering Act 2005 & Indian Telegraph Act 1885. The amendments proposed are the same as those contained in the Aadhaar and Other Laws (Amendment) Bill, 2018. The Ordinance was necessitated as the bill though passed by Lok Sabha was pending in the Rajya Sabha and would have lapsed with the dissolution of the current Lok Sabha.
  2. The amendments are a) voluntary use of Aadhaar number in physical or electronic form by authentication or offline verification with the consent of Aadhaar number holder, b) use of twelve-digit Aadhaar number and its alternative virtual identity to conceal the actual Aadhaar number of an individual, c) option to children who are Aadhaar number holders to cancel their Aadhaar number on attaining the age of 18 years, d) use of Aadhaar number for authentication on voluntary basis as acceptable KYC document under the Telegraph Act, 1885 and the Prevention of Money-laundering Act, 2002, e) deletion of section 57 of the Aadhaar Act relating to use of Aadhaar by private entities, f) anyone refusing to/ unable to provide Aadhaar cannot be denied service, g) establishment of Unique Identification Authority of India Fund and h) civil penalties for violations of Aadhaar Act and provisions by entities in the Aadhaar ecosystem.
  3. The amendments are in pursuance to the Supreme Court judgement in 2018. The Supreme Court had upheld that the Aadhaar is constitutionally valid but struck down section 57 of the Aadhaar Act. The SC ruled that Aadhaar is mandatory for filing of income tax returns (ITR) and allotment of Permanent Account Number (PAN). However, Aadhaar cannot be made mandatory for openings of a bank account and for getting mobile connections.
  4. The Aadhaar number is a verifiable twelve-digit unique identity number issued by the Unique Identification Authority of India (UIDAI) to the residents of India.  It is linked with the resident’s demographic and biometric information. The Aadhaar project was conceptualised in the year 2006 and launched in the year 2009 with the creation of Unique Identification Authority of India (UIDAI).
  5. The Aadhaar (Targeted Delivery of Financial and Other Subsidies, Benefits and Services) Act, 2016 provides legislative backing to the project.