Explained - Aadhaar (Amendment) Bill 2019

Parliament has passed Aadhaar Amendment Bill 2019

Introduction :-
The Parliament has passed the Aadhaar(Amendment) Bill 2019, which seeks to replace the Ordinance brought by the Centre last March to modify the existing laws in relation to the use of biometric data for authentication of identity for the purposes of grant of services, benefits and subsidies.

The Bill proposes to allow voluntary use of Aadhaar voluntary use of Aadhaar for getting mobile connections and bank accounts.

SC Judgement :-

- The Constitution Bench of the SC in the judgement delivered on September 26 had upheld the constitutional validity of the Aadhaar Act by 4:1 majority, with certain restrictions and changes.
- The compulsory use of Aadhaar based KYC for mobile connections was prohibited by the SC.
- The PMLA(Maintainence of Records)(Second Amendment) Rules brought by the Government in 2017 mandating the linking of bank accounts with Aadhaar was also struck down by the SC.

Use of Aadhaar by telecom service providers :-

The Bill proposes to amend Indian Telegraph Act 1855 to provide for voluntary use of Aadhaar number for identity verification. 

The telecom companies, which provide services as licensees under the Telegprah Act, are authorised to use Aadhaar number for verification of identity. Offline verification using Aadhaar is also permitted. However, the Bill does not say that Aadhaar has to be compulsorily used for verification.

Minors can seek cancellation of Aadhaar on attaining majority :-

- It seeks to amend the Aadhaar Act 2016 to permit the enrolment of children to the scheme with the consent of their parents or guardian.
It also contains a provision enabling the children to seek cancellation of their Aadhaar number on attaining majority.
The Bill also clarifies that no child should be denied any benefit or subsidy for want of Aadhaar.
The proposed amendment defines a "child" as a person who has not completed eighteen years of age.

Bank accounts and Aadhaar :-

The Bill proposes amendment to the Prevention of Money Laundering Act to permit voluntary use of Aadhaar for identity verification by banks before opening bank accounts.
As in the case of mobile connections, Aadhaar is specified as one of the means of identity verification, and there is no compulsion to use it.

Other Salient features of the Bill :-

Offline verification:
Offline verification means use of Aadhaar number to establish identity without authentication using biometric data or other electronic means. The Bill permits offline verification of Aadhaar number for identification purposes.

Virtual ID : 
The Bill changes definition of 'aadhaar number' to include 'virtual ID', in addition to the 12 digit number. The Virtual ID enables one to authenticate identity without providing aadhaar number.

No denial of services due to authentication failure : 
The Bill clarifies that failure in authentication of Aadhaar number due to old-age, sickness, or technical reasons should not result in denial of any service, benefit or subsidy. It states that alternate means to verify identity should be used in such cases.

Civil penalties :
The Bill proposes a new chapter specifying civil penalties for collection, use and disclosure of Aadhaar information in contravention with the violation of the provisions of the Act. The maximum penalty proposed is Rs. 1 crore.

TDSAT & SC as appellate authorities :
The TDSAT is made the appellate authority for considering challenge against imposition of civil penalties. An appeal provision to the Supreme Court is contained in the Bill, against the orders of TDSAT.

Congnizance can be taken on complaint of holder of Aadhaar number :
Section 47 is sought to be amended to enable the Court to take cognizance on the complaint made by the holder of Aadhaar number, who is the victim of offences committed under the Act. As per the existing Act, cognizance can be taken only on a complaint by UIDAI.

Omission of Section 57 :
Section 57 of the Act permitted private entities to use Aadhaar number for authenticating identity before disbursement of services. The provision was struck down by the Supreme Court. The Bill proposes to omit the Section.

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