Aadhaar Amendment Bill Passed In Parliament
Women show their Aadhaar cards while standing in a queue in Rajasthan. (Photo: PTI)

Aadhaar Amendment Bill Passed In Parliament

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The Parliament on Monday passed an amendment bill which allows the voluntary use of Aadhaar as proof of identity for users to open bank accounts and get mobile phone connections.

The Aadhaar and Other Laws (Amendment) Bill, 2019, was passed by Rajya Sabha by a voice vote. The bill, which also provides for a stiff Rs 1 crore penalty and a jail term for private entities violating provisions on Aadhaar data, was passed by Lok Sabha on July 4.

The Aadhaar and Other Laws (Amendment) Bill, 2019, was introduced in Lok Sabha on June 24. The amendments provide for use of Aadhaar number for KYC authentication on voluntary basis under the Telegraph Act, 1885, and the Prevention of Money Laundering Act, 2002.

Information Technology Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad moved the bill for consideration and passage in the Upper House, assuring that the use of Aadhaar is voluntary and consent of an Aadhaar card holder is compulsory for use by private entities.

The minister clarified that the Supreme Court has clearly stated that Aadhaar subserved the legitimate aim, it does not violate the principle of privacy, and is clearly needed for disbursal of subsidies and saving the entire misuse of those provisions.

"India has a population of 130 crore out of which 123.81 crore Indians have Aadhaar. 69.38 crore mobile numbers are linked with Aadhaar and 65.91 crore bank accounts are linked with Aadhaar.,” he said in the House. "We have sent Rs 7.48 lakh crore of direct benefit transfer in more than 240 schemes to people around the country and we have saved Rs 1.41 lakh crore," Prasad said.

He said once a child becomes an adult, he/she has the right to withdraw or give fresh consent for obtaining Aadhaar. "We have made amendments in the Telegraph Act whereby we have permitted the caveat that it shall not be mandatory but voluntary.” He also added that the customer can come with Aadhaar or any other document like passport or any other document permitted by the regulations.

"In case of banks also it will not be mandatory by voluntary. Aadhaar shall be one of the means of identification among passport or others by regulation," the minister said.

Prasad said Aadhaar can be used if there is a state objective or Parliament has passed a law backing such an objective. "Thirdly, the authority permits the entity that your initiative is covered by proper privacy and security concerns only in those scenarios this can be passed but voluntary," he said.

Under no circumstances, the services shall be denied to any of the beneficiary, Prasad said. Moreover, Prasad said, to safeguard the interest of customers vis-a-vis Aadhaar law, the present law also makes a provision categorically that a banking or telecom company violating the provisions on Aadhaar number or biometric data shall be liable to pay Rs 1 crore fine and Rs 10 lakh per day fine.

The amendments provide for use of Aadhaar number for KYC authentication on voluntary basis under the Telegraph Act, 1885, and the Prevention of Money Laundering Act, 2002.

Put simply, this means it will allow voluntary use of Aadhaar number for authentication and identity proof in opening bank accounts and procuring mobile phone connections.

It also gives option to children to exit from the biometric ID programme on attaining 18 years of age, while stipulating stiff penalties for violation of norms set for the use of Aadhaar and violation of privacy.

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