Aadhaar Act a valid law of land, work will have to be done as per it: UIDAI CEO
ABP Pandey says the Supreme Court ruling will not have any impact on the implementation of delivery of services linked to Aadhaar, the 12-digit biometric-based unique identification number.Updated: Aug 25, 2017 12:07 IST
The Supreme Court ruling that privacy is a fundamental right could test the validity of Aadhaar law the government brought in last year. ABP Pandey, CEO, Unique Identification Authority of India (UIDAI), says the ruling will not have any impact on the implementation of delivery of services linked to Aadhaar, the 12-digit biometric-based unique identification number. Excerpts from an interview with Moushumi Das Gupta:
What will be the impact of Thursday’s order on the future of Aadhaar Act?
The Aadhaar Act was legislated keeping in view that privacy is a fundamental right. It has very strong privacy protection provisions...the verdict by the nine-judge bench has not commented anything on Aadhaar law. It has referred the matter to a three-judge bench to decide whether Aadhaar scheme as reflected in the Act satisfies this judgment. Since it is a valid law of the land today, so work will have to be done as per the Aadhaar Act.
So Aadhaar will continue to be a mandatory requirement for delivery of welfare schemes and services?
The law authorises the government to make it a pre-requisite for delivery of benefits and services. Amendments have been made in other laws, such as the Income Tax Act or the Prevention of Money Laundering Act, where in those domains, having the 12-digit biometric unique identity number is a requirement. So as long as those laws are valid, it will continue to be a requirement…. it is the mandate of the law.
There have been several instances where digital identities of citizens have been compromised. How is the UIDAI addressing the issue?
We have given Aadhaar numbers to more than 117 crore citizens. More than 800 crore transactions have happened and authentication have happened. In the last seven years, not a single instance of identity theft or any financial loss has come to our notice. UIDAI has to be very vigilant about all emerging threat regarding data security. There is a process of continuous review of the existing protection system to ensure data remains safe and secure.
India does not have a privacy law in place. When is the government bringing such a law?
Personal data protection is an important aspect of privacy. A committee has been constituted under justice BN Srikrishna to suggest a framework and also legislation on personal data protection. Based on the committee’s report, the government will do the needful.
There have been reports of people being denied benefits in some states because the biometric authentication system failed. Your comment.
It is a local violation. .. some unscrupulous officials might deny somebody of benefits even if he produces Aadhaar card. If somebody does not follow the provision of law and Aadhaar Act, then he has to be punished. Beneficiary has to approach higher authority for redressal. Section 7 of the Act makes it very clear that no one can be denied benefits for lack of an Aadhaar number or failure of authentication. If, for some reason, the authentication system does not work, then the person will have to give proof of possession of Aadhaar and the benefits will be given.
What is rate of failure of biometric authentication system?
It varies from state to state. Overall, the success rate is in the range of 90%-98%.