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Monday, September 19, 2016

Aadhaar card now must for Government Schemes, Benefits
NEW DELHI: The use of Aadhaar card+ is set to become mandatory for all central and state government subsidies and benefits which require funding from the central exchequer with the Centre notifying the unique identity (UID) regulations.

While the law had empowered the Centre to mandate use of Aadhaar, the rules clearly stipulate that any agency, such as the oil ministry dealing with cooking gas+ or HRD's scholarship schemes, has to ensure all beneficiaries are enrolled under UID+ . For this, they have been asked to tie up with registrars or enrol individuals themselves.

"Ministries will have to notify schemes for which Aadhaar number is required. In case someone does not have Aadhaar, he will be asked to enrol for the same. If you are asking for Aadhaar and if enrollment facilities are not in a convenient location, the agency has to ensure that people are not left in the lurch," said Ajay Bhushan Pandey, CEO of the UID Authority of India (UIDAI).

Pandey also said the regulations strongly address privacy concerns over Aadhaar misuse+ by incorporating a three-year jail term for an offence. "The big brother concern has been dealt with. If a government or private entity uses Aadhaar number for some other purpose... if a company shares the data, it becomes a criminal offence," Pandey said.

The particular clause has been inserted to address concerns raised by civil society groups that mandating Aadhaar will exclude genuine beneficiaries, who do not possess a UID, from government schemes. The rules mean the onus will now be on agencies like oil companies or banks to make sure beneficiaries have Aadhaar numbers to access benefits ranging from subsidies and pensions.

Though the Supreme Court had earlier held Aadhaar could not be made mandatory for government schemes while extending "voluntary use" of UID numbers to MGNREGA, pensions, cooking gas, PDS, EPF and Jan Dhan accounts, the new law and its regulations will help the Centre expand the ambit of UID to virtually all government schemes.

The data security rules make it incumbent for UIDAI, registrars, enrolling agencies, companies and authentication service providers to observe a strict protocol. "The rules require every entity seeking to use Aadhaar to preserve information for a certain number of years and be subject to an audit," Pandey said, adding that an entity seeking Aadhaar will need consent to disclose the information each time it wants to share the data.

The regulations also provide more leeway for capturing biometric information. In cases where fingerprints are not easily registered, like in the case of elderly persons, iris scans will do. This has been added to existing flexibility for persons with disabilities or injuries.

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