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The Adhaar and other laws (amendment) bill-2019

On June 24, 2019 the Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology presented the The Aadhaar and Other Laws (Amendment) Bill, 2019 in Lok Sabha. It replaced an Ordinance promulgated earlier on March 2, 2019.

What is the Provision of the bill?

  • Offline confirmation of Aadhaar number holder:
    Under the Aadhaar Act, a person’s identity is confirm by Aadhaar ‘authentication’. The process of authentication includes giving the Aadhaar number and their demographic or biometric information to the central identities Data repository for verification. Moreover, the bill permits “offline verification” of a person’s identity, even without authentication via modes specified by UIDAI (Unique Identification Authority of India).

  • During offline confirmation, the agency must follow these points:
    • get the consent of the person,
    • inform them of other possible option to sharing information, and
    • not store, use or collect Aadhaar number, even biometric or demographic information.

  • Voluntary or non-compulsory use:
    The Act allows us to use the Aadhaar number as proof of recognition or identity of a person, subject to authentication. The Bill replaces this provision to state that an individual may freely use his Aadhaar number to establish his identity, by authentication or offline confirmation or verification. The Bill states that authentication of an individual’s identity via Aadhaar, for the provision of any service, may be made compulsory only by act of Parliament.

  • The Bill amends
    The Bill amends the Prevention of Money Laundering Act (PMLA)-2002 and the Telegraph Act-1885 to state that persons with a license to maintain a telegraph, financial institutions and banking companies may authenticate or verify the identity of their clients by:
    • offline verification or authentication of Aadhaar,
    • passport, or PAN or Voter ID card or
    • any other documents notified by the Indian government.
    A person has choice to use either mode to confirm or verify his identity and any person shall not be deprived of any service for not having an Aadhaar number.

  • Establishment or entities using Aadhaar:
    As per Act, usage of Aadhaar number for setting up the identity of an individual, by the corporate or a state body under any law is allowed. The Bill exempts this provision. An entity will be permitted to perform authentication process through Aadhaar, if the Unique Identification Authority of India (UIDAI) is satisfied that it is:
    • compliant with specific standards of security and privacy, or
    • permitted by law, or
    • looking for authentication for a purpose specified by the government of India in the interest of the State.

  • Children's Aadhaar number:
    The Bill clears that at the time of enrolling a child to acquire an Aadhaar number, the enrolling agency shall obtain the consent of his parent or guardian. The agency must notify the guardian or parent of the manner in which the information shall be used, the beneficiary with whom it will be shared, and of their right to access the information. After reaching 18 years of age, the child can applies for cancellation of his Aadhaar number.

  • Exposure of information in certain cases:
    According to this act restrictions on confidentiality and security of Aadhaar related information do not apply in case the exposure is pursuant to an order of a District Court or above. The Bill amends this provision to permit such disclosure only for orders by the High Court or above. Moreover, under this act, an officer at the level of joint secretary or above rank may give orders for disclosing information in the interest of national interest and security. The Bill amends this provision to allow such disclosure on directions of officers at the rank of a Secretary or above.

  • Unique Identification Authority of India (UIDAI) Fund:
    In accordance with this act all the revenue and fees raised by the Unique Identification Authority of India (UIDAI) will be credited to the consolidated Fund of India. Besides, bill remove this provision and forms the unique identification of India (UIDAI) fund. All charges, fees and grants obtained by UIDAI shall be credited to consolidated fund of India. Later, the fund will be used for expenditure of the Unique Identification Authority of India (UIDAI) including allowances and salaries of its employees.

  • Complaints:
    As per the act, courts are allowed to take cognizance of an offence if the Unique Identification Authority of India (UIDAI) lodges a complaint. The bill amends this to permit the person to lodge/register complaints in some cases like disclosure or impersonation of his/her identity.

  • The Bill defines
    The bill defines the ecosystem of the Adhaar include requesting agencies, offline confirmation or verification seeking units, and enrolling agencies. It allows the Unique Identification Authority of India (UIDAI) to issue directions to them, if required, for the discharge of its functions.

  • Penalties:
    Under the Bill, the Unique Identification Authority of India (UIDAI) can begin a complaint against an establishment in the Aadhaar ecosystem for failure to-
    • comply with the Act or the Unique Identification Authority of India (UIDAI) orders,
    • supply information required by the Unique Identification Authority of India (UIDAI).
    Arbitrating Officers appointed/nominated by the UIDAI shall decide such matters, and may charge penalties up to one crore rupees on such entities. The Appellate Tribunal and Telecom Disputes Settlement will be appellate authority against decision of the Arbitrating/ Adjudicating Officer.

Implication of the bill

  • The decision shall authorizes Unique Identification Authority of India (UIDAI) to have a more strong mechanism to prevent the misuse of Aadhaar and serve the public interest.
  • No individual shall be forced to provide proof of ownership of Aadhaar number or go through authentication for the purpose of confirmation or verification unless it is so provided by a law enacted by Parliament.
For the convenience of common people in opening of bank accounts, the projected amendments would permit the use of Aadhaar number for confirmation on voluntary basis as acceptable KYC(know your customer) document as per the Prevention of Money Laundering Act, 2002 and Telegraph Act, 1885.