Aadhaar now a reality: All you need to know about the bill

  • HT Correspondent, Hindustan Times, New Delhi
  • Updated: Mar 17, 2016 10:29 IST
File photo of Rajasthani women showing their respective Aadhaar cards while standing in a queue to vote for Ajmer District Panchayat elections on Friday. (PTI)

The Aadhaar bill was passed by the Lok Sabha for a second time on Wednesday without any of the amendments suggested by the Rajya Sabha which had returned the bill after a heated discussion.

The Upper House had suggested five amendments that underscored its reservations about provisions in the proposed legislation.

The Lok Sabha’s disapproval completed the legislative process for enacting the bill to ensure targeted delivery of subsidies through the Aadhaar platform. The Lower House has the privilege to reject the Rajya Sabha’s amendments since the Aadhaar (Targeted Delivery of Financial and Other Subsidies, Benefits and Services) Bill, 2016, was treated as a money bill.

The proposed law that will come into force after the President’s assent mandates that people receiving benefits from the government should have the 12-digit unique identification number called Aadhaar.

Read | Lok Sabha passes Aadhaar bill, rejects Rajya Sabha amendments

Here’s all you need to know about Aadhaar:

What is Aadhaar?

It is a 12 digit biometric auto-generated unique identity number created after taking one’s finger prints and iris scan. The biometric data collected is sent to the Bangalore office of UIDAI for de-duplication, meaning that two persons cannot have same Aadhaar number. There is a detailed protocol for collecting and storing biometric data of each Indian resident.

How to enroll for Aadhaar?

Any person above the age of five is eligible for getting enrolled in Aadhaar. The government has listed number of documents such as driver’s licence, passport and electricity bill as proof of residence. Those not having any documents can be introduced by a person having an Aadhaar number. The government considers it as a proof of identity but not of address.

What Aadhaar does?

Aadhaar number is the window to avail government benefits and subsidies. The proposed law clearly states that only those who have Aadhaar will get government benefits. A large number of states now seek Aadhaar number for registration of property, for getting driving license, marriage certificate and even ration card.

What is Aadhaar authentication?

Government agencies can authenticate one’s home and demographic details instantly through online Aadhaar authentication system. The system replies only in Yes or No without sharing any details with the agency. However, the bill provides that if needed authorities can seek more information but after taking consent of Aadhaar number holder.

What the Aadhaar bill says?

The bill for the first time defines privacy and says that while enrolling a person should be informed the purpose for which the information was being collected. It also provides for prior consent of a person for sharing his or her personal information and that biometric data not to be shared with anyone. The privacy provision can be exempted only for national security. The bill also provides penalties for theft of data and its misuse.

Aadhaar card not mandatory

Although the government will have the power to make it compulsory for people accessing its services to have the Aadhaar number, finance minister Arun Jaitley on Wednesday told the Rajya Sabha that Aadhaar card is not mandatory as it was an “entitlement” in a 2010 law and remains the same even in the new law passed by the Lok Sabha.

“Where people don’t have it, alternative documents will be prescribed so there are alternative documents and the user would be predominantly through the state government,” Jaitley said.

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