The Unique Identification Authority of India (UIDAI) issues Aadhaar, a unique identification number, to every Indian citizen. The Aadhaar number is a 12-digit biometric identification number for identity and residence proof. The Aadhaar program, launched in 2009, is the world’s biggest biometric identification system and is valid only in India.
The UIDAI captures and retains information based on biometric and demographic data such as fingerprint, name, date of birth, and address. With the introduction of Aadhaar and through a universal identification system, the Government of India is seeking to improve governance and provide benefits to citizens.
The chief economist of the World Bank, Paul Romer, called Aadhaar ‘the most advanced ID programme on the planet’.
Table of Contents
What is the Aadhaar Act?
The Aadhaar Act (Targeted Delivery of Financial and Other Subsidies, benefits, and Services) 2016 is a money bill of the Parliament of India. Significant legislation was implemented to create a unique identification system for Indian citizens.
Aadhaar Act allots a unique identification number to every citizen based on their biometric and demographic information. The act involves organising the distribution of government subsidies, benefits, and services through a reliable form of identity. The Act was enacted to assist the underprivileged persons and the people below the poverty line to live better lives.
What is an Aadhaar Card?
Aadhaar cards are unique identity cards given to Indian citizens. The card has a 12-digit unique identifying number known as the Aadhaar number and is used as proof of identity and address. Aadhaar cards serve as unique identity cards for all Indians.
The Act aims to develop a reliable and security verification system, eliminate duplication, and promote efficacious disbursal of benefits. The Act helps the government to determine the beneficiaries of various schemes and provide them with benefits. The Aadhaar card should be compulsorily linked with other identity cards such as the PAN card for purposes such as payment of income tax.
History of the Aadhaar Act
The Indian parliament adopted the Aadhaar Act as a money bill on 11 March 2016. Some provisions of the act were enacted on 12 July 2016 and 12 September 2016.
The Aadhaar Act 2016 established UIDAI for implementing the Aadhaar project. The Act delineated the enormous work of enrolling residents and provides unique identification numbers based on biometrics and demographics.
To establish a legal framework for collecting, storing, and using Aadhaar data, the Aadhaar Act protects privacy and prevents the misuse of Aadhaar information.
The Act received considerable criticism regarding privacy issues and potential misuse of personal data. Nevertheless, the act is widely used in many industries, such as banking, telecommunication, and social welfare programs. The Act has become essential in India’s identity verification system.
Information Collected Under Aadhaar
This includes the full name, date of birth, gender, and residency address.
The biometric details include fingerprints and iris scans of both eyes and the passport-sized photograph clicked during enrollment.
Mobile number and email ID details:
Submitting a mobile number and email address is optional.
Parent/ Guardian Details:
The application requires the Aadhaar information of the parent or guardian for children under the age of 5.
Does the Aadhaar Act Violate the Right to Privacy?
Article 21 of the Indian constitution provides the right to privacy. The article includes the freedom to handle and safeguard personal information, including biometric information, from unauthorised access. However, for just, fair, and reasonable applications, the government may use private data of individuals.
Some of the key concerns of the Aadhaar Act are as follows:
Data security and privacy
The security and privacy of demographic and biometric information is one of the primary issues with the Aadhaar Act. Critics of the act have raised concerns about the safety of the data and the potential for misuse.
Required services link
According to the government, people must link their Aadhaar numbers to various services, including bank accounts, mobile phone numbers, and PAN cards (for income tax). Critics claim that it jeopardises people’s privacy and may be misused for surveillance.
Legal issues and supreme court decision
The legality and potential violation of privacy rights of the Aadhaar Act reached the Indian Supreme Court in 2018. In the case of Justice Puttaswamy v. Union of India, the court held that Aadhaar is unnecessary for some services and stated the need for data protection. The delivery of welfare services should be ensured as long as the privacy of the individual is secured.
The Supreme Court read down Section 57 of the Aadhaar Act, which allowed the government, corporates, and other individuals to use the Aadhaar number to establish an individual’s identity for any purpose under any law or contract.
The court held that ‘any purpose’ is too broad and can be misused. Thus, the purpose must be backed by law.
Furthermore, the court restricted the collection of Aadhaar numbers under any contract as it may lead to forced consent. The regulations must back the agreement.
Finally, the court restrained private bodies and corporates from using Aadhaar numbers for authentication purposes to avoid commercial exploitation of individuals’ privacy.
Registration of Aadhaar—A Step-By-Step Guide
Step 1: Enrollment at the nearest Aadhaar enrollment centre
Find an authorised Aadhaar enrollment centre near your area through the official website of UIDAI.
Step 2: Book an appointment
An appointment should be made before visiting depending on the policies of the enrollment centre. Therefore, the prescribed process should be followed.
Step 3: Required documents
The documents include proof of identity, date of birth, and address proof. The standard proofs for identity and address are ration card, driving licence, passport, PAN card, and voter ID. Electricity and water bills for the latest 3 months can also be considered as address proof.
Step 4: Biometric data collection
In the enrollment centre, biometric information, such as fingerprint and iris scans, is collected using biometric devices.
Step 5: Acknowledgment slip
When the registration process is complete, an acknowledgment slip is given. This slip includes the enrollment number, date, and time and is a temporary Aadhaar ID.
Step 6: Aadhaar Card Delivery
The UIDAI will process the Aadhaar card after successful registration and is sent through post to the registered address. This process may require 60–90 days.
Eligibility for Aadhaar Card
Aadhaar cards are primarily for Indian residents. To be eligible for an Aadhaar card, an individual must reside in India for at least 182 days in the last 12 months before the application date for enrollment. If a non-residing Indian (NRI) fulfils this criterion, he/she can also avail of an Aadhaar card.
Offences and Penalties for Unauthorised Access
Because the use of Aadhaar is widespread, numerous cases of unauthorised access, personation, and other illegal acts have been reported.
- If an individual uses an Aadhaar card to misrepresent identity, he/she can be charged with imprisonment of 3 years or a fine of Rs. 10,000 or both.
- Revealing Aadhaar-related information without proper authorisation is an offence. The act includes transferring Aadhaar data or using it for illegal purposes. The penalty includes imprisonment of 3 years or a fine of Rs 10,000 for a person and Rs 1,00,000 for a company.
The Aadhaar Act promotes efficient service delivery and identification process and eliminates theft. The act is necessary to address privacy, data protection, and security issues.
In India, Aadhaar is compulsory for the majority of the population. Thus, anyone seeking government assistance or making good at their expense should give up their biometrics to a plan now managed by law. This collection of private data may portray a potential threat to the privacy of Aadhaar Card holders as cyber attacks are a common phenomenon. The government must maintain top-tier security for the database of UIDAI. illegal migrants enrolling themselves and obtaining Aadhaar Cards is a threat to the security of the nation.
Can the Aadhaar card be updated?
Yes, the address details can be updated on the UIDAI website itself. However, to update any other information, one has to visit the enrollment centre or Aadhaar Seva Kendra. The UIDAI directs that the personal information of children at the age of 15 be updated on the Aadhaar Card.
What does Section 4 of the Aadhaar Act mean?
Section 4 of the Aadhaar Act entails that the Aadhaar number issued to an individual cannot be transferred to another individual. The Aadhaar number must be random and should not have any relation to the attributes or identity of the person with it.
What are the different types of Aadhaar cards?
UIDAI issues three types of cards
1: Aadhaar letter: This letter is the laminated paper-based letter you receive for an Aadhaar card the first time.
2: E-aadhaar: This is an electronic form of the Aadhaar card downloaded from the official website.
3: M-aadhaar: This is obtained on a mobile device using the mobile application.
4: Aadhaar PVC Card: The PVC-based Aadhaar card UIDAI has introduced is durable and easy to carry. It has various security features with a tamper-proof QR code.
Is there an Aadhaar enrollment fee?
No, aadhaar enrollment is free of cost. Enrollment can be done at the Aadhaar centre using identity proofs. In case an authorised person asks for a fee, one may either complain by calling on the toll-free number 1947, write an email at firstname.lastname@example.org, or directly lodge an online complaint on the website resident.uidai.gov.in/file-complaint.