The Union Cabinet, chaired by Prime Minister Narendra Modi has approved the promulgation of Aadhaar and Other Laws (Amendment) Ordinance, 2019.
The decision to take the Ordinance route was taken by Centre when the Aadhaar and Other Laws (Amendment) Bill, 2018, failed to get passed during the Budget Session of Parliament.
The Lok Sabha passed the Bill on January 4, 2019, however, before the same could be considered and passed in the Rajya Sabha, the Rajya Sabha was adjourned sine die.
The Ordinance will make amendments to the Aadhaar Act, 2016, Prevention of Money Laundering Act, 2002, and Indian Telegraph Act, 1885. The Ordinance contains provisions identical to the Amendment Bill.
As per a release made by the Press Information Bureau, the salient features of the amendments are:-
- Provides for voluntary use of Aadhaar number in physical or electronic form by authentication or offline verification with the consent of Aadhaar number holder;
- Provides for use of twelve-digit Aadhaar number and its alternative virtual identity to conceal the actual Aadhaar number of an individual;
- Gives an option to children who are Aadhaar number holders to cancel their Aadhaar number on attaining the age of eighteen years;
- Permits the entities to perform authentication only when they are compliant with the standards of privacy and security specified by the Authority; and the authentication is permitted under any law made by Parliament or is prescribed to be in the interest of State by the Central Government;
- Allows the use of Aadhaar number for authentication on voluntary basis as acceptable KYC document under the Telegraph Act, 1885 and the Prevention of Money-laundering Act, 2002.
- Proposes deletion of section 57 of the Aadhaar Act relating to use of Aadhaar by private entities;
- Prevents denial of services for refusing to, or being unable to, undergo authentication;
- Provides for establishment of Unique Identification Authority of India Fund;
- Provides for civil penalties, its adjudication, appeal thereof in regard to violations of Aadhaar Act and provisions by entities in the Aadhaar ecosystem.
The Supreme Court on September 26, 2018, in the case of Justice K.S. Puttaswamy and Anr. v. Union of India and Ors., held Aadhaar to be constitutionally valid. However, it read down/struck down few sections of the Aadhaar Act and Regulations and gave several other directions in the interest of protecting the fundamental rights to privacy.
Consequently, the government proposed to amend the Aadhaar Act, Indian Telegraph Act and the Prevention of Money Laundering Act in line with the Supreme Court directives and the report of Justice B.N. Srikrishna (Retd.) committee on data protection, in order to ensure that personal data of Aadhaar holder remains protected against any misuse and Aadhaar scheme remains in conformity with the Constitution.
Read the Aadhaar Amendment Bill, 2018, below.