Aadhaar Bill 2016, Hopes and Concerns 

Basics of Aadhaar

Aadhaar is an ambitious project that seeks to provide unique identification numbers to each individual in a country, collecting demographic and biometric information in the process. Currently, UIDAI has issued over 98 crore Aadhaar numbers.

Need for Aadhaar: India must use technology in a transformational way to accelerate social and economic justice. It will help in expansion of opportunities for all at scale and speed.

What is the Aadhaar Bill?

Aadhaar (Targeted Delivery of Financial and Other Subsidies, Benefits and Services) Bill, 2016, has been passed by Parliament, to provide for efficient, transparent, and targeted delivery of subsidies, benefits and services.

It will enable the govt. to reset the subsidy regime and deliver state benefits directly to their intended beneficiaries, plugging leakages.

How Aadhar is linked with DBT?

India spends nearly Rs. 4 lakh crore on subsidies, in order to complement the political democracy with socio-economic democracy.

On January 1, 2013, the UPA govt launched the Direct Benefit Transfer scheme under which monetary benefits would be transferred directly to the beneficiaries through an Aadhaar-enabled platform.

The effort to channelize subsidies, benefits and services to through a 12-digit number or to say its biometric alternative can help plug the leakages in the subsidy framework and give a boost to the Jan Dhan Yojna, which remains closely aligned to this scheme.

Follow our story on Direct Benefits Transfer: The Big Reform.

Do read the Economic Survey chapter on JAM Trinity.

What are the concerns on Privacy front?

There are certain provisions in the Bill, that provide avenues for surveillance of citizens. A person’s Aadhaar number can become a standard data point in all business, banking and legal transactions. Our data systems are not secure and watertight. The people who maintain these systems are vulnerable to pressures and inducements.

  • The issue of privacy vs. security is a hot subject around the world, evident in the current controversy in Apple Inc.’s refusal to break the encryption on an iPhone as demanded by FBI
  • Sceptics argue that no other country, and certainly no democratic country, has ever held its own citizens hostage to such a powerful infrastructure of surveillance
  • Govt. accepts right to privacy as a valuable right, but questions it as a fundamental right
  • In 1954, a 8-judge bench of SC had ruled that right to privacy cannot be a fundamental right. But, some judgments post-1990 noted that right to privacy can be construed as fundamental right, subject to certain restrictions and circumstances

However, there are other concerns of exclusion, by denying the services to people who didn’t enroll for it or chose not to do it.

Safeguards

According to Nandan Nilekani, the Bill had incorporated several safeguards with regard to privacy as highlighted by the A.P. Shah Committee report, on privacy law.

There are other provisions in this Bill that seem to address the concern:

  • The unique numbers will not be considered as proof of citizenship
  • The Aadhar system ensures privacy through design, as it uses a federated architecture. In other words, as banking data is wholly inside the banking system, similarly, the biometric data is never shared by UIDAI
  • The core bio-metric information cannot be shared with any person even with the consent of the Aadhaar card holder. Even, the general information cannot be unlawfully shared
  • Only a Court of the District Judge or above has been given the power to order disclosure of information excluding core biometrics
  • National Security” is the only ground on which a Competent Authority can share this information. Every decision of the Competent Authority has to be reviewed by a Committee comprising of the Cabinet Secretary, the Law Secretary and the Secretary, Information Technology before it is given effect

What was Supreme Court’s stand on Aadhaar?

In 2013, the Supreme Court ruled that Aadhaar could not be made mandatory to receive benefits. No one should be excluded from social welfare scheme, just because of a requirement of Aadhar.

In 2015, It also prohibited the sharing the Aadhaar information with any agency. The case was referred to a larger bench to decide the question whether Aadhaar infringed the right to privacy.

What is Aadhaar Bill versus Money Bill controversy?

According to experts, the Bill was not a money Bill under Article 110 of the Constitution because it did not “contain ONLY provisions” dealing with the matters enumerated in that Article. Various Constitutional experts have argued that the Speaker’s decision to certify it as a money Bill was also plainly wrong.

Do you want to know about Money Bill?

As per Article 110(1), a bill that contains only provisions dealing with the following qualifies as a money bill:

  1. The imposition, abolition, remission, alteration or regulation of any tax
  2. Regulation of borrowing or the giving of any guarantee by the govt of India, or undertaking financial obligation by the government
  3. The custody of the Consolidated Fund of India or the Contingency Fund of India, the payment of moneys into or withdrawal from them
  4. The appropriation of moneys out of the CFI
  5. Declaring any expenditure as a charged expenditure on the CFI <can you tell us the difference b/w charged expenditure and non charged expenditure? Also can you tell us one prominent constitution body whose expenditure is not charged? Answer in the comments.>
  6. The receipt of money on account of the CFI or the public account of India or the ambit of accounts of the Union or of a state <can you tell us the difference b/w consolidated fund of India and public accounts of India? Answer in the comments>
  7. Any matter incidental to the above issues

A money bill cannot be rejected by the Rajya Sabha, which can only suggest changes, the Lok Sabha is free to reject.

Speaker: Article 110(3) confirms finality on the speaker’s decision on the question of whether a bill is a money bill.

What were the amendments moved by Rajya Sabha?

  • It wanted to restrict the use of Aadhaar numbers only for targeting of govt benefits or service and not for any other purpose
  • It wanted to replace the term ‘national security’ with ‘public emergency and public safety’, arguing that the term ‘national security’ is very vague
  • It wanted an Oversight Committee to review the Competent Authority’s decision, which should also comprise of either the CVC or the CAG
  • It wanted to delete a section which says that if under any other law the use of Aadhaar number for establishing the identity of an individual is permitted, the same law is not being over-ruled

Conclusion

There is little doubt that India needs to streamline the way it delivers benefits, and to empower citizens with a basic identification document. But this cannot be done without ensuring the strictest protection of privacy.

Follow our story on Aadhaar Cards: The Identity Revolution.

Published with inputs from Pushpendra

Any doubts?


  1. Profile photo of Bhargava Tadi Bhargava Tadi

    can you tell us the difference b/w charged expenditure and non-charged expenditure?

    Charged expenditure is the non-votable i.e., it can only be discussed in the parliament and not votable whereas, the other is votable.

    1. Profile photo of Rini Sen Rini Sen

      +1

Now, Aadhaar made mandatory for scholarship schemes

  1. The Human Resource Development (HRD) Ministry has made Aadhaar mandatory for providing scholarships to meritorious school students of economically weaker sections despite initial reluctance
  2. Students who want to avail scholarship benefits under ‘National Means-cum-Merit Scholarship Scheme’ need to get enrolled under Aadhaar by June 30

Note4students:

Not very important. Just keep track of the issue as SC had not allowed making Aadhar mandatory for services.

Back2basics:

National Means-cum-Merit Scholarship Scheme

  1. Launched in 2008
  2. Aim: Arresting school drop outs at class VIII and encourage children to continue their studies at secondary stage
  3. Scholarship of Rs. 500 per month is awarded to meritorious students every year for study in classes from IX to XII in state government, government-aided and local body schools
  4. In 2015-16, around 2.05 lakh students were beneficiary of the scheme

Aadhaar mandatory for availing subsidised foodgrains from PDS

  1. News: After cooking gas LPG, the government made Aadhaar mandatory for availing subsidised foodgrains from the ration shops
  2. Why? To better target ₹1.4 lakh crore subsidy under the food security law
  3. Digitisation is also essential to curb leakages and corruption in PDS
  4. The use of Aadhaar as identity document for delivery of services or benefits or subsidies simplifies the delivery processes, brings in transparency and efficiency and enables beneficiaries to get their entitlements directly in a convenient and seamless manner
  5. The government has given time to those not having the biometric-based unique identification number to apply for Aadhaar by June 30
  6. So far, 72% of ration cards have been seeded with Aadhaar Cards
    Govt provides direct cash transfer of food subsidy to the beneficiaries in Chandigarh, Puducherry and Dadra & Nagar Haveli

Note4students:

Know the benefits of using Aadhar and under which Act it is being made mandatory.

Back2basics:

Under the National Food Security Act (NFSA), which has been completely rolled out across the country in November last year, the government provides 5 kg of foodgrains per person every month at ₹1-3/kg to over 80 crore people

Aadhaar linkage to school subsidy schemes worries HRD Ministry

  1. Context: The Cabinet Secretariat’s directive in November, asking all the Ministries to issue notification under Section 7 of the Aadhaar Act, 2016, which makes the use of Aadhaar “an identifier for delivery of various subsidies or benefits or schemes” to beneficiaries
  2. Issue: The Human Resource Development (HRD) Ministry has expressed concern over the Centre’s push to link the Aadhaar number with subsidy schemes related to school education
  3. As the schemes are huge, impacting education of children across the country, the matter has to be examined in greater detail
  4. Background: The proposed notification to link two centrally sponsored student scholarship schemes – to promote enrolment of girl child and economically weaker sections in schools – with Aadhaar has been put on hold after the Supreme Court stayed the mandatory use of Aadhaar in one of the scholarship schemes of West Bengal in September

Note4students:

Just know about the issue of using Aadhaar for entitlements which has yet not been resolved.

Aadhaar number printed on paper perfectly valid: Centre

  1. Unique Identification Authority of India (UIDAI): Has cautioned people about sharing their personal information with unauthorised agencies for printing Aadhaar numbers on a plastic card
  2. The Aadhaar letter, with its cutaway portion or the downloaded version, on an ordinary paper is perfectly valid
  3. The printout of the downloaded Aadhaar card, even in black and white form, is as valid as the original Aadhaar card sent by UIDAI

Note4students: Not very important. Just to be aware of it.

Aadhaar covers 99% of adults in India: Prasad

  1. Govt’s claims on Aadhar: More than 111 crore people now have an Aadhaar number, covering more than 99% of the Indian adult population
  2. Enrolment for Aadhar has increased to 7-8 lakh per day post demonetisation, against 5-6 lakh till October
  3. There has also been an increase in use of Aadhaar-enabled payments systems from 2.57 crore transactions in October 2016, to 2.69 crore in November, to 3.73 crore in December and to 2.06 crore transactions in the first 15 days of January
  4. 22 states and UTs have more that 90% Aadhaar saturation
  5. The Aadhaar-Enabled Payment System (AEPS) is now connected with 119 banks across the country
  6. More than 33.87 crore transactions have taken place using the platform, mainly in the rural areas
  7. Aadhar Pay: The government has also integrated the BHIM app with Aadhaar, while Aadhaar Pay will be launched soon
  8. With demonetisation and Digital India drive towards (a) less-cash economy, Aadhaar is all set to be the game-changer with Aadhaar Pay
  9. It is a digital payment system which will eliminate the need of card, pin, password or mobile with the customer
  10. Privacy: The government is vigilant towards privacy protection and database security
  11. We have Aadhaar Act 2016 which has strict provisions for protection of data and privacy

Note4students:

Most of the points can be quoted in mains answer to bring objectivity.

Aadhaar critical step in enabling fairer access: U.N.

  1. Context: World body says the unique identification programme has “tremendous potential” for fostering inclusion
  2. These are the words from – 2016 Report on the World Social Situation, released by the U.N. Department of Economic and Social Affairs
  3. The theme of this year’s report is ‘Leaving No One Behind — The Imperative of Inclusive Development.’
  4. Fair and robust systems of legal identity and birth registration are recognised in the new 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development as an important foundation for promoting inclusive societies

More observations:

  1. Some 40 per cent of the world’s population does not have access to education in a language they understand.
  2. Children of ethnic minorities and those who are disabled are much less likely to finish their primary and secondary educations
  3. The Sustainable Development Goals recognise that development will only be sustainable if it is inclusive
  4. In order to promote social inclusion, barriers to participation must be broken down by revising laws, policies, institutional practices

Note4students:

Make a note of the report + its theme. Note down the points/ observations made by the report. Questions on SDG can use these points and your answers will get more credibility if you cite the report as well. A UN body recognising Aadhar in a world report is a big thing.

Supreme Court finds govt. defying its order on Aadhaar

  1. Violation: SC discovered that the Centre has been insisting that students submit their Aadhaar number for applying for Govt scholarship schemes
  2. Background: On October 15, 2015, a Constitution Bench had held that citizens cannot be forced to produce Aadhaar to avail themselves of government welfare schemes and benefits
  3. It had even hinted that the government risked contempt of court if it chooses to continue to make the Aadhaar number a mandatory condition
  4. However, it had extended the voluntary use of Aadhaar cards to the MGNREGA, pensions schemes, Employee Provident Fund and the Prime Minister Jan Dhan Yojana

Learn about Aadhaar Act, 2016 -II

  1. Basics: Aadhaar is a unique identity number through which the govt plans to target delivery of subsidy benefits and services
  2. Institution: It provides for the establishment of the Unified Identification Authority of India
  3. It also provides for establishment, operation and maintenance of the Central Identity Data Repository
  4. Citizenship: The Aadhaar number cannot confer right of or proof of citizenship of domicile
  5. Privacy: The Authority shall ensure the security, confidentiality and protection of identity information and authentication records of individuals in its possession or control, including the information stored in the repository

Learn about Aadhaar Act, 2016

  1. Context: Legislation to provide statutory backing to Aadhaar is listed for introduction in Lok Sabha
  2. Type: Money Bill
  3. Name: The Aadhaar (Targeted Delivery of Financial and Other Subsidies, Benefits and Services) Bill, 2016
  4. Provides for: Good governance, efficient, transparent, and targeted delivery of subsidies, benefits and services to individuals residing in India through assigning of unique identity numbers to such individuals
  5. Expenditure: for these is incurred from the Consolidated Fund of India
  6. Privacy concerns: will be adequately addressed; these have been one of the biggest stumbling blocks to the universal acceptance of Aadhaar

Centre bans sharing of Aadhaar details

  1. Context: UIDAI’s efforts to ensure the Aadhaar information is not misused
  2. Regulations: Agencies in possession of Aadhaar number of an individual will not be allowed to publish or post the information publicly and will have to ensure security and confidentiality
  3. These agencies have also been mandated to inform Aadhaar holders the purpose for which their details will be used
  4. The biometric information cannot be shared with anyone for any reason whatsoever
  5. Any violation of the Aadhaar Act will constitute an offence and is punishable under the Act

Discuss: What is the legal status of Right to Privacy in India? Discuss it in the context of recent Aadhaar Act. How can this issue be taken care of?

Aadhaar-based e-signature launched

  1. Built on the Aadhaar platform, eSign is an initiative of the Government of India and meant to save money and time for citizens
  2. Its users need to have a registered mobile number associated with the Aadhaar card
  3. The documents signed electronically will be legally valid in the country
  4. Statistics: 1 Billion Aadhaar users and ~ 25 Million transactions – Think of all the time, money and paper that could be saved

What next on Aadhar Cards?

  1. Unique Identification Authority of India (UIDAI) issues the Aadhar cards
  2. With 85% of India’s population covered and the Aadhar Act (2016) being enacted, UIDAI will work to support financial transactions
  3. Identification of a beneficiary using biometrics like fingerprint and iris recognition will help in authentication
  4. Authentication will be of critical importance in small and big ticket items like – ticket reservations, attendance, and Bharat Bill Payment System etc.

Aadhaar to be linked with caste, domicile certificates. Why?

  1. Context: Centre has asked state govt. to link Aadhar with caste & domicile certificates issued to school students
  2. Aim: To expedite the delivery of grants and scholarship schemes to the deserving students
  3. To avoid the unusual delays and harassment faced by these students in obtaining these certificates separately
  4. The responsibility for issuance of residency and caste certificates rests with the States and Union territories.

‘SC cannot review Speaker’s actions’

  1. Context: Govt has challenged SC for examination of Speaker’s authority on passage of Adhaar as a Money bill
  2. The plea to review passage of Aadhar was filed under article 32 of Constitution
  3. Article 32: Remedies for enforcement of fundamental rights
  4. Argument: The passage of the Aadhaar law as a Money Bill in a brazen and malafide manner, bypassing the approval of the Rajya Sabha, is a violation of the Basic Rule of Law enshrined in the Constitution

Aadhaar Bill passage comes under apex court scanner

  1. Context: Controversy over introducing Aadhar Bill as a money bill
  2. The five amendments moved by Rajya Sabha MP were rejected by Lok Sabha
  3. Judicial examination: Bypassing the Rajya Sabha by introducing an ordinary financial bill as a Money bill- Constitutional fraud
  4. Also, the Speaker’s authority to declare it as a Money bill

Don’t share Aadhaar information: UIDAI

  1. Context: Growing concern for Aadhaar cards due to misuse of cards by unscrupulous entities
  2. News: UIDAI has asked public not to share their personal information with unauthorised agencies for printing or laminating their Aadhaar cards
  3. The e-commerce firms should not allow their merchants to collect Aadhaar information from general public for printing Aadhaar card as this may amount to a criminal offence punishable with imprisonment

Over 100 cr. people have Aadhaar number

  1. News: The UIDAI had generated 100th crore Aadhaar number, in five-and-half years since the first Aadhaar was issued in 2010
  2. The Aadhaar Act has complied with the standards set by the Supreme Court to ensure privacy in cases of phone tapping
  3. Measures: The core biometrics that are fingerprints and iris, shall not be shared with anyone for any reason whatsoever
  4. Statistics: Aadhaar coverage now is at 93% among people above the age of 18

LS rejects RS recommendations, passes Aadhar Bill

  1. News: Lok Sabha has rejected 5 amendments for Aadhar Bill, proposed by Rajya Sabha
  2. Govt. turned down opposition’s argument that Parliament cannot legislate since the matter is before SC
  3. Criticism: It is violating the Supreme Court direction that Aadhaar card cannot be made mandatory but should only be voluntary
  4. Every individual should have the freedom to opt out of the scheme
  5. There is a possibility of misuse, as it gives “sweeping powers” on the grounds of national security

Jan Dhan accounts using Aadhaar face hiccups

  1. Why? Almost 40 per cent of people who have obtained Aadhaar numbers say that it has not helped them
  2. Context: Banking correspondents in rural areas reporting that accounts opened under Jan Dhan Yojana using Aadhaar face authentication issues, leading to failed transactions
  3. Relevance: PMJDY accounts opened through e-KYC using Aadhaar number face frequent authentication issues during transactions
  4. Bank Mitra report: Biometric signature of customers is often rejected, leading to transaction denial

Lok Sabha passes Aadhaar Bill

  1. News: The Lok Sabha passed the Aadhaar Bill to provide a unique identity to residents
  2. Objective: To empower the govt in providing targeted services to the intended beneficiaries by assigning them unique identity numbers
  3. Provisions: The Aadhaar card can be used as proof of identity, but not as a proof of citizenship or domicile status
  4. Eligibility: It will be given to every person, who has stayed in India for 182 days in the year preceding the date of application

Aadhaar Bill introduced in Lok Sabha

  1. News: The govt. has introduced a Bill in Lok Sabha to provide statutory backing to Aadhaar
  2. Finance: The expenditure for the nationwide Aadhaar exercise is incurred from the Consolidated Fund of India
  3. Importance: Anyone who want to get subsidies, will have to produce Aadhaar
  4. Criticism: Govt. introduced the measure as a money Bill, which can only be introduced in the Lok Sabha and Rajya Sabha has limited powers
  5. Money Bills cannot be referred to a joint committee of Parliament

Budget 2016: Aadhaar to get legal backing

  1. News: The govt  will introduce a bill in Parliament linking various financial inclusion schemes with Aadhaar numbers
  2. Reason: To ensure that the benefits of various govt subsidies reach the people who deserve it
  3. Mechanism: The govt will bring all the benefits and subsidies funded from the Consolidated Fund of India on the Aadhaar platform
  4. Future: A social security platform will be developed using Aadhaar to accurately target beneficiaries
  5. Statistics: Around 98 crore Aadhaar numbers have been generated and 11.19 crore accounts are seeded for LPG subsidy

Govt. cannot insist on Aadhaar: SC

  1. The Constitution Bench of SC reiterated that the use of Aadhaar is not mandatory, but allowed its use in host of schemes.
  2. The voluntary use of Aadhar card will continue till the apex court decides whether the scheme infringes on the right to privacy.
  3. The SC extended the voluntary use of Aadhaar to MGNREGS, all types of pension schemes, EPF and the Jan Dhan Yojana.
  4. A-G assured that no person will be denied benefits under any government scheme for want of Aadhaar card.

RBI Governor said that it will help in financial inclusion drive and providing easy access to loans.

Aadhar Crisis: Choice, identity and privacy

  1. SC has made it clear that Aadhar cannot be insisted by any authority as a pre- condition for citizens to avail any benefit. Why?
  2. Making Aadhaar a mandatory would cause hardship to various sections as people stand to lose benefits or be denied routine services.
  3. Govt. can continue linking Aadhar cards for PDS and PAHAL scheme by linking Aadhar cards.
  4. However, there is a need for an effective identification mechanism to authenticate beneficiaries for delivery of services.
  5. But, any mechanism with no legal backing and without clear norms endangers misuse of the personal information and biometric data.

Don’t insist on Aadhaar, comments SC

  1. SC confirmed that the card is not compulsory, and warned that officials ignoring this would be taken to task.
  2. Some other curious facts around Aadhaar – The National Identification Authority of India (NIAI) Bill, (for legal backing + use of biometrics) to create a unique identity for every resident of India is still pending in the Parliament.
  3. The UID (Unique Identification) and NPR (National Population Register) are both government identity schemes that aggregate personal data.

    Discuss: What’s the difference? The NPR Scheme has been created pursuant to the 2004 Amendment of the Citizenship Act. The central govt. has the power to compulsorily register citizens for an Identity Card. The UIDAI was set up through an executive notification.



:( We are working on most probable questions. Do check back this section.







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