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19th February 2024 (8 Topics)

Fresh advisory soon on Aadhaar

Context

The UIDAI plans to address concerns over the cessation of Aadhaar usage as a proof of date of birth by potentially allowing individuals to continue using it for age verification after conducting a risk-based assessment.

What is Aadhaar?

  • An Aadhaar card is a unique number issued to every citizen in Indiaand is a centralised and universal identification number.
  • The Aadhaar card is a biometric documentthat stores an individual’s personal details in a government database, and is fast becoming the government’s base for public welfare and citizen services.
  • It can be used for a number of purposes, making it a universally acceptable government-issued card, without needing to register or apply for a separate card for each of these services.
  • The Aadhaar card includes demographic information like the citizen's name, father's or mother's name, date of birth, sex, and address, as well as biometric informationlike a photograph, fingerprints, and information about the iris (eye).
  • The central government of Indiacontrols and manages Aadhar cards.

Aadhar ID system in India:

  • The UIDAI is a statutory authorityestablished on 12th July 2016 by the Government of India under the jurisdiction of the Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology, following the provisions of the Aadhaar Act 2016.
  • The UIDAI is mandated to assign a 12-digit unique identification (UID)number (Aadhaar) to all the residents of India.
    • The Unique ID (UID) is a critical element for effecting direct benefit transfers to millions of government welfare scheme beneficiaries, using what the Centre calls ‘the JAM (Jan Dhan bank accounts, Aadhaar, and Mobile Phones) trinity’.

Concerns:

  • A single entry controlling users’ ID credentials can dispose of user data for internal or third-party profiling purposes.
  • Aadhar faces hurdles, including burden of establishing authorization.
  • The system often results in service denials, and the reliability of biometric technologies, especially for manual laborers in hot, humid climates, is questionable.

UIDAI’s statement

  • The UIDAI, in a December 2023 missive, asked all agencies that use Aadhaar to authenticate identities to delete it from the list of acceptable documents for verifying a person’s date of birth.
  • Now, Aadhaar ID cards come with a prominent disclaimer that they are “a proof of identity, not of citizenship or date of birth.”
  • The UIDAI circular reflects that an Aadhaar number can be used to establish the identity of an individual subject to authentication and is not per se a proof of date of birth.

Related Judgments:

  • The case of Justice Puttaswamy and Others v. Union of India and Others was brought in 2018 by the Supreme Court's constitutional bench, which rendered a 4:1 majority decision rejecting this claim challenging the validity of the Aadhar card.
  • The Bench invalidated Section 57 of the Aadhaar Act, which mandates the use of an Aadhaar for verification by private businesses and permitted businesses and people to demand an Aadhaar in payment for goods and services, which was also repealed.
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