Union Budget 2019: Union Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman on Friday announced that, “Aadhaar cards to be issued to non-residents Indians with Indian passports after arrival in India without waiting for 180 days.” This means that the government is proposing to waive off the mandatory waiting period. As of now, the rules of the UIDAI stated that, “as per the Aadhaar (Targeted Delivery of Financial and Other Subsidies, Benefits and Services) Act, 2016, only a resident who has resided in India for a period or periods amounting in all to 182 days or more in the 12 months immediately preceding the date of application for enrolment is eligible for Aadhaar. “
According to the official UIDAI site, “Aadhaar number is a 12-digit random number issued by the UIDAI (“Authority”) to the residents of India after satisfying the verification process laid down by the Authority. Any individual, irrespective of age and gender, who is a resident of India, may voluntarily enrol to obtain Aadhaar number. Person willing to enrol has to provide minimal demographic and biometric information during the enrolment process which is totally free of cost. An individual needs to enrol for Aadhaar only once and after de-duplication only one Aadhaar shall be generated, as the uniqueness is achieved through the process of demographic and biometric de-duplication.”
A day before on Thursday, the Lok Sabha had passed a bill to allow voluntary use of Aadhaar as proof of identity for opening bank accounts and procuring mobile phone. The Aadhaar and Other Laws (Amendment) Bill, 2019, was passed by a voice vote after Information Technology Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad assured the House that Aadhaar is voluntary and informed consent of the biometric identity holder has to be obtained before it is used. "The amendments address the privacy and security concerns. It provides that no service or benefit of any scheme will be denied for lack of Aadhaar," Prasad said.
The amended bill also provides for a stiff Rs 1 crore penalty and a jail term for private entities for storing Aadhaar data. "As many as 123 crore people are currently using Aadhaar... All safeguards are in place to prohibit misuse of Aadhaar biometrics. Iris and finger print data is stored in Indian machinery and it is safe and secure," Prasad said.
Displaying his personal Aadhaar card in the House, the Minister said the card only discloses his name, father's name, date of birth, residential address and does not give out any information on medical records or details of caste, religion and community. He said Aadhaar data can only be shared when there is a threat to national security or there is Court order. "Even if I, as an, Information Technology Minister, seek Aadhaar data, I will be subject to 3 years of punishment," Prasad said.
He said the government has saved Rs 1.41 lakh crore due to Aadhaar and removed 4.23 crore and 2.98 crore bogus LPG connection and ration cards respectively.
(With agency inputs)