As per the latest judgment of the Apex court the deadline for Aadhar linkage has been extended till 31st March, for all the services including State Government services like school admission etc.
INTRODUCTION to AADHAR
Just like Social Security Card in U.S.A. and the U.K. National Identity card, there is nothing new about the idea of a single unique identification number or card for every citizen of India. Almost two decades ago when Tirunellai Narayana Iyer Seshan known as the man who cleaned up elections in India talked about the similar card, but his main purpose was to have a photo-ID card that controls fake voters or weed out fake voters. Now with the advancement of technology and science have made it possible to have Biometric Smart Card (Biometric ID Cards are a form of identification that recognizes and analyses an individual based on their physical and behavioral traits. This includes fingerprints, eye retina and iris scanning, voice recognition, facial patterns, and body movement, including gait.). This card can verify the identity of the cardholder, on the other hand, it also enables various transactions including I.T, banking, e-commerce etc.
Nowadays Modi Government is linking the Aadhar card with many government functionalities like cooking gas subsidies, house allotments, school scholarships, passports, e-lockers bank accounts under Pradhan Mantri Jan Dhan Yojana, provident funds account, pensions, driving license, insurance policies, loan waivers and many more.
Also, the government has made it mandatory for ATM Cash Transaction, railway reservation and applying for PAN card, and filing income tax returns. And then in 2016 government introduced a new bill in which Aadhar card was made mandatory for authentication purposes like salary payment, pension schemes, school enrolment, train booking, for getting a driving license, to get a new mobile sim etc.
Also, UGC (University Grants Commission) instructed the universities to include the 12-digit Aadhar number on the mark sheet as well as on the certificates to bring consistency and transparency. But there are many security and privacy issues of the Aadhar linkage database which need to be addressed.
FIRST IDEA OF AADHAR CARD
When Shri Atal Biharee Vajpayee was Prime Minister of India in 1999 he had suggested identity cards for the people living in the border area, and his idea was later adopted by the home mister of that time Lal Krishnan Advani, he proposes a multi-purpose National Identity Card. Later Aadhar project was introduced under the scheme Unique Identification Authority of India (UIDAI) by the UPA government in the year 2009. Nandan Nilekani, co-founder of Infosys was appointed as the chairman of the Aadhar project.
Aadhar card contains the demographic features such as the name of the citizen, Father/Mother’s name, Date of Birth, Sex, the address of the citizen, and biometric features such as photograph, fingerprints and iris details. The demographic features as well as in the form of Quick Response (QR) code along with a 12-digit unique identity number called, Aadhar, are printed on the card issued to every citizen. All the demographic and biometric data are stored into one centralized database, and this database has been stored as a world’s largest database management and Biometric ID system.
The total cost of this project was also high according to a data of 2013 total estimate figure was of USD 3.3 billion. And this does not include the cost of hardware, firmware, software and data communication neither does it take into account the considerable costs which would be associated with training people about its use through the various method the privacy and the security of the database and maintenance and replacement of cards.
Advantages and Benefits of Aadhar Card
- Direct Benefit Transfer – Aadhar Card linked bank account will get their set of LPG Subsidy directly accredited in the bank account. All you need is to link Aadhar Number to the 17-digit LPG consumer identification under the PAHAL Scheme.
- Jhan Dhan Yojana – Aadhar Card is used as the major document of proof when opening a bank account under the Pradhan Mantri Jhan Dhan Yojana in the Country. Also, Aadhar Card is now accepted by the banks as part of the valid id proof for opening a bank account. It also acts as the address proof of the applicant and validates their credentials. No more requirements for the baggage of documents when opening a bank account now.
- Monthly Pension and Provident Fund – A person who has registered their Aadhar Card as per the rule will have the amount credited to their bank account. So the person needs to link his bank account with Aadhar card.
- Passport and Voter ID – A change in rules and laws have regarded Aadhar Card as a compulsory document for obtaining Passport. Aadhar Card will relieve you of the lengthy procedure while obtaining Passport. If an applicant who has Aadhar Card as part of the procedure can get the Passport in just 10 days.
- Furthermore, every Voter ID will be linked to Aadhar Card in a bid to eliminate the bogus voters. That being said, a legal voter will get absolute right to use his powers granted by the law. It’s only for those illegal holders of multiple Voter ID that will be hampered.
Disadvantages or Demerits of Aadhar Card
- Handling of the data by Foreign Authority – Aadhar Project is being handled by private owned organizations who were selected in the round of auctions. Such a thing may lead to data erosion to the foreign body which in the hindsight will compromise the privacy of the individuals of India.
- Personal Information may be Compromised – Aadhar based identification record the biometrics of a person with uniquely 12-digit numerical. It is also linked to the bank accounts and the voter ID. This stands as a big risk going forward with the Aadhar card.
- It is not proof of citizenship – Section III.9 of Aadhar Bill says that ‘the Aadhar number or authentication thereof shall not, by itself, confer any right of, or be proof of, citizenship or domicile in respect of an Aadhar number holder. But it is widely used to apply for a passport or other documents which are illegal.
- Aadhar Card is not a unique identity card, it’s just a number. Neither it contains any security feature like PAN card and Voter ID does nor it has hologram feature. Multiple copies of Aadhar can be downloaded from their SSUP portal. Yet, it is used as valid proof of identity at some places.
- Aadhar is used as proof of address. Whereas UIDAI doesn’t even verify the address of the applicants. Still, Aadhar card has been accepted as a proof of address in the bank and while buying a new sim card.
DOES AADHAR INFRINGES RIGHT TO PRIVACY?
I personally believe that Aadhar Card does not breach the right to privacy although it has many loopholes because Aadhar information is stored in Central Identities Data Repository which is considered to be a secured place. India’s security mechanism towards Aadhar is full-proof unless and until there is a human interference. But the other side cannot be ignored that due to some technical problem our data leaks.
According to a report of Times of India – Maharashtra Govt accepted they lost 3 lakhs of Aadhar data along with the PAN. The incident took place when the IT Department were uploading the biometric information and PAN data to the UIDAI centralized server i.e. in Bengaluru from Mumbai, due to the crash of hard disk. The data were being uploaded and encrypted using a strong algorithm, and when they were downloading the data, they couldn’t decrypt it. Therefore, many applicants, who complained about this, were asked to re-register for it.
It is not possible to guess personal details of an individual just by looking at 12-digit unique number known as Aadhar card number as it is generated randomly. According to Aadhar Act, there is a restriction imposed on access to personal information of an individual through Aadhar Card. Such persons are liable for a jail term and fine. UIDAI will get to know only about the log of authentication not about the purpose of authentication whenever someone uses Aadhar card for authenticating. Also, recently UIDAI introduced new features known as ‘locking’ and ‘unlocking’ of an Aadhar Card. You can restrict access by locking.
According to the newspaper Indian Express, the NDA Government has admitted that the Aadhar data had been leaked to the public domain. But, the Modi government had been ignoring the fact that Aadhar is a sensitive data and assuring us by saying that Aadhar is fully secured and it can’t be breached easily. As the Aadhar project has the largest database management the information loss or security breach to Aadhar database can be a serious threat for India. But now Government is planning to protect data. As we use identity proof such as PAN cards, driving license etc. that consisted of few personal information to open a bank account. This personal information PAN was protected by our government. Aadhar card is similar to PAN. And, even Aadhar cards will be protected by our government in future days.
Government of India has been linking each and every welfare services and benefits to Aadhar card Like bank account details sim cards Subsidiary products etc by linking these things will curb so many problems for example linking bank account will help to curb black money and linking LPG connection with Aadhar card and bank account will help the poor to get their subsidies direct into their bank account. But linking is not sufficient, and from the day Aadhar project has started it had been in the news for several implementation loopholes. There are various cases occurred in which the Aadhar implementations had faced problems. So, the government should take care of these loopholes.
OPINION OF SUPREME COURT ON AADHAR
Aadhar card and Right to privacy now a day is a major challenge and concern for the country which led the Apex Court of India interferes. On 20th November 2012, the legislative and the state knocked the door of Supreme Court of India where the court observes the arguments against National Identification Authority of India, Bill 2010 which according to them overlaps the Article 73 of Constitution of India which states “Extent of the executive power of the Union, states that, Subject to the provisions of this Constitution, the executive power of the Union shall extend to the matters with respect to which Parliament has the power to make laws and to the exercise of such rights, authority and jurisdiction as are exercisable by the Government of India by virtue of any treaty or agreement”.
On 23rd September of 2013, the SC of India held by three-judge bench ordered that the Central Government cannot deny giving subsidies to the person who does not have an Aadhar card. Therefore, the court admitted that Aadhar is voluntary but not mandatory.
But in 2016, the Supreme Court of India extended the use of Aadhar Card to MGNREGA, pension schemes, Employee Provident Fund and PMJDY though Aadhar was first only restricted to Cooking Gas subsidies and PDS distribution system.
On 7th February of 2017, the Supreme Court of India ordered to link mobile number with Aadhar card as well as reminds that the government cannot make Aadhar mandatory for welfare schemes.
On 27th March 2017, the court again reiterated that government cannot make Aadhar mandatory for welfare schemes. However, the court has not stopped the government to make Aadhar mandatory for other schemes.
And Recently Supreme Court of India ordered that all the Aadhar should be linked till 31st March 2018 for all the services including State Government services like school admission etc.
It is the work of government to bring new schemes and law in favour of its citizen which make the life of an individual easy and protected. Aadhar card may have some loopholes now but it does not mean that these problems will be there for decades, science upgrades the technology nothing is 100% perfect. This age of technology comes with various risks. If we want a risk-free environment, as extreme as it may sound, we have the option available that is to go back to the stone age. It is just like saying ban the vehicles as driving has become risky. So, we need to take a level-headed approach and ensure that ample safeguards are put in place for data protection and privacy. Similarly, we need to educate our people on the risks involved. Also, we have a multiplicity of laws which overlap. Our IT laws have to be changed and we have to put the liability on the private companies handling the data if it is not stolen or shared without consent.
For some people, it may be a dangerous piece of plastic but the current situation will definitely change and one day every Indian will have his/her Unique 12 digit Identification Number or QR code.
Article by – Shubham