Lok Sabha passed Aadhaar (Targeted Delivery of Financial and Other Subsidies, Benefits and Services) Bill, 2016

The bill seeks to provide for targeted delivery of subsidies and services to individuals residing in India by assigning them unique identity numbers, called Aadhaar numbers.

The Lok Sabha on 11 March 2016 passed the Aadhaar (Targeted Delivery of Financial and Other Subsidies, Benefits and Services) Bill, 2016.

The bill seeks to provide for targeted delivery of subsidies and services to individuals residing in India by assigning them unique identity numbers, called Aadhaar numbers.


Features of the Aadhaar Bill, 2016

Eligibility: Every resident shall be entitled to obtain an Aadhaar number.  A resident is a person who has resided in India for 182 days, in the one year preceding the date of application for enrolment for Aadhaar.

Information to be submitted: To obtain an Aadhaar number, an individual has to submit his (a) biometric (photograph, finger print, iris scan) and (b) demographic (name, date of birth, address) information.  The Unique Identification Authority (UID) may specify other biometric and demographic information to be collected by regulations.

Enrolment: At the time of enrolment, the individual will be informed of the manner in which the information will be used, the nature of recipients with whom the information will be shared and the right to access this information.

After verification of information provided by a person, an Aadhaar number will be issued to him.

Usage of Aadhaar number: To verify the identity of a person receiving a subsidy or a service, the government may require them to have an Aadhaar number.  If a person does not have an Aadhaar number, government will require them to apply for it, and in the meanwhile, provide an alternative means of identification.

Any public or private entity can accept the Aadhaar number as a proof of identity of the Aadhaar number holder, for any purpose. However, Aadhaar number cannot be a proof of citizenship or domicile.

Functions and composition of authority: The following are the key functions of the UID authority -

1) Specifying demographic and biometric information to be collected during enrolment

2) Assigning Aadhaar numbers to individuals

3) Authenticating Aadhaar numbers

4) Specifying the usage of Aadhaar numbers for delivery of subsidies and services.

UID Authority composition: The UID authority will consist of a chairperson, two part-time members and a CEO.  The chairperson and members are required to have experience of at least 10 years in matters such as technology, governance, etc.

Authentication: The UID authority will authenticate the Aadhar number of an individual, if an entity makes such a request.  A requesting entity (an agency or person that wants to authenticate information of a person) has to obtain the consent of an individual before collecting his information.  The agency can use the disclosed information only for purposes for which the individual has given consent.

Response to authentication query: The UID authority shall respond to an authentication query with a positive, negative or other appropriate response.  However, it is not permitted to share an individual’s finger print, iris scan and other biological attributes.

Maintenance of Authentication records: The UID authority shall record the entity requesting verification of a person’s identity, the time of request and the response received by the entity.  The purpose for which an individual's identity needs to be verified will not be maintained.

Understanding the issue of Right to Privacy

 • Privacy: Biometric information such as an individual’s finger print, iris scan and other biological attributes will be used only for Aadhaar enrolment and authentication and for no other purpose.  Such information will not be shared with anyone, nor will it be displayed publicly, except for purposes specified by regulations.

However, in two instances, information may be revealed – In the interest of national security and on the order of court.

1) National security: In the interest of national security, a Joint Secretary in the Union Government may issue a direction for revealing Aadhaar number, biometric information, demographic information and photograph. Such a decision will be reviewed by an Oversight Committee (comprising Cabinet Secretary, Secretaries of Legal Affairs and Electronics and Information Technology) and will be valid for six months.

2) Court order: On the order of a court an individual’s Aadhaar number, photograph and demographic information may be revealed.

Offences and penalties: A person may be punished with imprisonment up to 3 years and minimum fine of 10 lakh rupees for unauthorized access to the centralized data-base, including revealing any information stored in it.

If a requesting entity and an enrolling agency fail to comply with rules, they shall be punished with imprisonment up to one year or a fine up to 10000 rupees or one lakh rupees, in case of a company, or with both.

Cognizance of offence: No court shall take cognizance of any offence except on a complaint made by the UID authority or a person authorised by it.

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