In a move to give Aadhaar number legal sanctity, the Cabinet cleared amendments to the National Identification Authority of India Bill in time for Parliament to consider passage of the law during the winter session.
The government had introduced the bill in the Rajya Sabha in 2010 but shoved it into the cold storage after the parliamentary standing committee that studied the proposed legislation found it wanting and asked for an overhaul. An official said the proposed changes addressed many of the concerns raised by the parliamentary panel.
The absence of statutory backing for the world’s largest database of biometric details of citizens had exposed Aadhaar to legal challenges. The Nandan Nilekani-led Unique Identification Authority of India (UIDAI), which issues 12-digit Aadhaar numbers to residents, at present, operates through an executive order.
The UIDAI was initially only intended to provide backroom support for de-duplication of a biometric database collected by the home ministry-driven National Population Register but later carved out a role for itself for enrolling residents.