Aadhaar Card Issues

Aadhaar Card Issues

Aadhaar, no standout performer in welfare deliveryop-ed snap


From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : Not much.

Mains level : Paper 2- Aadhaar- how it has fared so far?


Aadhaar-based biometric authentication did not reduce PDS leakages, finds Jharkhand-based empirical study

What was the rationale behind Aadhaar?

  • What did the UIDAI’s report say? Aadhaar has curtailed leakages of government subsidies. Through Aadhaar, savings worth ₹90,000 crores have accrued to the government– UIDAI’s2017-18 annual report.
  • Plugging the leakages in the schemes: When Aadhaar was conceived a decade ago, the rationale postulated was: India spends nearly three trillion rupees a year across several core welfare programmes such as Public Distribution System (PDS), LPG, Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Act etc.
    • Huge leakage due to duplications: Roughly 30-40% of this three trillion is lost in leakages.
    • Leakages are largely due to ‘ghost’ and ‘duplicate’ beneficiaries using fake identities to avail these benefits; a unique identity biometric scheme can eliminate these leakages and vastly improve efficiency in welfare delivery.
  • Improve welfare delivery efficiency: In fact, the former Union Minister, Arun Jaitley, even renamed the Aadhaar Bill to ‘Targeted Delivery of Financial and other Subsidies, Benefits and Services’ Bill, making it amply clear that Aadhaar’s primary, if not sole purpose, was to improve welfare delivery efficiency.

What are the findings of study?

  • How was the study carried out?
    • Use of RCT and sample of 15 million people: They conducted a scientifically designed study of the PDS system in Jharkhand covering 15 million beneficiaries using the technique of randomised control trials (RCT).
    • In the study, one set of beneficiaries went through the Aadhaar-based biometric authentication while the other group used the old system of procuring their ration.
  • The results were then compared to see if Aadhaar-based biometric authentication had any impact in reducing leakages.
  • What were the findings of the study?
  • No measurable benefit: The study concluded that Aadhaar-based biometric authentication had no measurable benefit.
    • No reduction in leakages: Aadhaar-based biometric authentication did not reduce leakages due to elimination of ghosts and duplicates, as widely perceived.
  • Increase in transaction costs for beneficiary: On the other hand, they found that Aadhaar-based biometric authentication increased transaction costs for beneficiaries.
    • 17% extra cost: That is, to claim ration worth ₹40, beneficiaries in the Aadhaar system incurred an additional ₹7 of costs than those in the old system, because of multiple trips to authenticate themselves and the opportunity cost of time spent.
    • This is a whopping 17% extra cost burden of the value of the benefit they were entitled to receive.
  • Type 1 error of exclusion: To make matters worse, Aadhaar-based biometric authentication also introduced what empirical scientists call Type I error of exclusion.
    • Aadhaar authentication falsely rejected genuine PDS beneficiaries who were then denied their ration supplies.
    • The study finds that nearly 10% of legitimate beneficiaries were denied their ration either because they did not have their Aadhaar linked to their ration card or due to an exclusion error.
  • Summary of the finding: In summary, the study states that there was-
    • No direct impact of Aadhaar in reducing leakages.
    • 2. It denied ration to 10% of genuine beneficiaries and increased costs by 17% to those that were forced to get their ration using Aadhaar.
    • Pain with no gain: They conclude that Aadhaar authentication for PDS in Jharkhand caused “some pain with no gain”.

What premises were wrong about Addhaar?

  • No testing of empirical belief: There was a widespread belief among the policy elite that ghosts and duplicates were the scourge of India’s welfare delivery and that Aadhaar would eliminate this.
    • But this belief was never empirically tested.
    • Based on this belief, an entire story was concocted about improving welfare efficiency by eliminating ghosts and duplicates with Aadhaar and a whole new law was enacted to this effect.
  • The pilot project not carried out: Many studies now establish that ghosts and duplicates are not the significant cause of leakages.
    • It would have been better to have undertaken a robust pilot project of scale to test the belief about ghosts and duplicates, before embarking on it nationwide.


In a sociologist’s world and in a liberal society, a policy that could run the risk of denying welfare to just a few people, putting their lives at risk, is not worth implementing regardless of how many millions it benefits.





Aadhaar Card Issues

[op-ed snap] To achieve its full potential, Aadhaar should be made easier and safer to useop-ed snap


From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : Nothing much

Mains level : Aadhaar - working and way ahead


From 2010, when Ranjana Sonawane received the first Aadhaar number, in less than 10 years, 95% of the adult residents in India have gotten Aadhaar. 


  • ID – For a large number of these people, Aadhaar was the first usable ID. Without Aadhaar, they found it difficult to access services.
  • Survey – the latest State of Aadhaar Report (SoAR) — a study that attempts to capture the impact of Aadhaar in the real world brought out the voice of the users.
  • Satisfaction – they are satisfied with Aadhaar (92%), trust that the data is safe (90%) and feel that it has made PDS rations, MGNREGS and other social programmes more reliable (80%). 

Significance of Aadhaar

  • State of living – Away from the experts, people who do not always get enough to eat are living. For them, exclusion isn’t a concept, but a lived reality.
  • Report findings on service access
    • nearly 50% of the people have used Aadhaar to access rations, MGNREGS, social pensions, SIM cards or bank accounts for the first time.
    • 81% of Aadhaar holders say that they will provide it if they have a choice of which ID to provide.
    • 61% of beneficiaries trust that Aadhaar prevents others from accessing their benefits.

Limitations of Aadhaar

  • Authentication – there are some cases where authentication fails because the biometrics are defaced due to age. Supreme Court judge, Justice Srikrishna, recounted how he too had trouble in getting authenticated due to the difficulty of scanning his fingerprints.
  • UIDAI assurance – UIDAI has maintained that there would be individuals for whom biometric authentication does not work. 
  • Exception handling mechanism – Failure to authenticate cannot be a reason to deny any services to them and the organisation requesting the authentication must provide an exception handling mechanism in such cases.

Way ahead

  • The report indicates a need for the state to wrap the unfinished agenda of ensuring that Aadhaar works for everyone.
  • Marginalised groups must be enrolled, the process to update records should be made simpler, the grievance redress systems need to be strengthened, and exclusions due to Aadhaar could be eliminated.
  • Focus on improving the user experience, making it easier for everyone to use Aadhaar safely every day.
Aadhaar Card Issues

Explained: Should Aadhaar be linked to social media accounts?Explained


From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : Not Much

Mains level : Debate over right to privacy

  • From January 2020 the Supreme Court will hear cases seeking the linking of Aadhaar with social media profiles of individuals.
  • It will be the first big legal battle on the right to privacy after the Supreme Court held in a landmark verdict in 2017 that privacy is a fundamental right.

What is the Issue?

The two significant questions of law that the court will look into are:

  1. Whether mandatory linking of Aadhaar to social media accounts violates an individual’s right to privacy, and
  2. The balance between intermediary liability and free speech.


  • The government submitted an affidavit stating that the Internet has emerged as a potent tool to cause unimaginable disruption to the democratic polity.
  • It said that it will notify “extant rules” for “effective regulation of intermediaries” such as social media platforms.
  • Intermediaries, as defined by the IT Act, 2000, include telecom service providers, network service providers, Internet service providers, web-hosting service providers, search engines, online payment sites, online auction sites, online market places, and cyber cafes.
  • Section 87 of the IT Act gives power to the central government to frame Rules; currently, Rules framed in 2011 regulate intermediaries.

The cases

  • Facebook, WhatsApp and Google had appealed for the transfer of such cases to the Supreme Court from the Madras, Bombay and Madhya Pradesh High Courts, where at least four such cases were pending.
  • In October 2018, Sagar Suryavanshi, an advocate, moved the Bombay High Court seeking a ban on all paid political content online 48 hours before elections.
  • Suryavanshi has withdrawn the case, and informed the High Court that he would join the proceedings before the Supreme Court as an intervener.
  • In July 2019, advocate Amitabh Gupta move the MP High Court seeking mandatory KYC of all social media users using Aadhaar and other identity proof.
  • Facebook argued that these cases involved answering questions related to fundamental rights — specifically the rights to privacy and free speech.
  • If different High Courts heard the cases separately and gave conflicting verdicts, citizens’ fundamental rights could be affected, Facebook argued.

New guidelines on the way

  • The central government informed the apex Court that fresh guidelines for regulating intermediaries under the IT Act were in the pipeline.
  • There are various messages and content spread/shared on the social media, some of which are harmful. Some messages can incite violence.
  • There may be messages which are against the sovereignty and integrity of the country. Social media has today become the source of large amount of pornography.
  • Paedophiles use social media in a big way. Drugs, weapons and other contraband can be sold through the use of platforms run by the intermediaries the court said.
  • In January, the Ministry for Information and Technology had published draft Rules on regulating intermediaries, seeking responses from the public.

Privacy and sovereignty

  • The Madras High Court had sought an affidavit from V Kamakoti, a professor with IIT Madras, who said he could provide the technology to enable the intermediary to decrypt the encrypted message when necessary.
  • WhatsApp, on the other hand, has submitted that it is impossible for it to trace the creator of the “questionable content” since it has end-to-end encryption.
  • While the court highlighted that “de-encryption, if available easily, could defeat the fundamental right of privacy.
  • The court said that de-encryption of messages may be done under special circumstances but it must be ensured that the privacy of an individual is not invaded.
  • At the same time “the sovereignty of the state and the dignity and reputation of an individual are required to be protected”.
Aadhaar Card Issues

Multipurpose National ID Card (MPNIC)Priority 1


From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : MPNIC

Mains level : Need for MPNIC

  • India could have a single multi-purpose unique card that will serve as an identity card and double up as a voter card, PAN and even a passport said Union Home Minister.

Multipurpose National ID Card (MPNIC)

  • MPNIC was first suggested by a 2001 report on “Reforming the National Security System” by an empowered Group of Ministers during the Atal Bihari Vajpayee government.
  • The GOM report itself was a response to the K Subrahmanyam-led Kargil Review Committee, which was instituted in the wake of the Kargil conflict of 1999.
  • The GOM included LK Advani, (MHA), George Fernandes (Minister of Defence), Jaswant Singh (MEA), and Yashwant Sinha (Minister of Finance) recommended MPNIC in relation to the growing threat from illegal migration.

Are we seeing the reprise of the MPNIC?

  • It is difficult to surmise if MPNIC exactly is being reprised.
  • Although there is no such scheme in the offing, it was possible to get rid of excess processes and cards such as the Aadhaar card, the voter card, the identity card etc.
  • But the government would want to link various databases if it intends to create a card that works as a single point of access to various accounts held by an individual.
  • Moreover, technology has taken a giant leap since the MPNIC was first proposed in 2001.
  • A good example of that is the existence of the Aadhaar database, which now has almost all residents of India on it.


National Intelligence Grid (NATGRID)

  • The government is expected to launch the NATGRID by the start of 2020.
  • The Natgrid would reportedly be used by 10 agencies such as Intelligence Bureau (IB), Research & Analysis Wing (R&AW), CBI, and ED among others.
  • It aims to scour data real-time from 21 databases such as airline travel, credit card transactions etc with the aim to track and prevent terror and illegal immigration activities.
  • The existence of the Natgrid would obviate the original need of MPNIC – that of tracking terror suspects and illegal immigrants.
Aadhaar Card Issues

[op-ed snap] Privacy rights, wrongsop-ed snap


From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : Nothing much

Mains level : Security - Privacy - Technology debate; Aadhaar issue


Supreme Court has agreed to hear together multiple public interest litigations pending in Madras, Bombay and Madhya Pradesh high courts, calling for the linking of Aadhaar with social media accounts. 

Why the linkage

  1. Death threats, criminal intimidation, smearing and stalking are commonplace in social media.
  2. The mills of rumor and fake news have the capacity to spark violence and conflict.

Challenges to the linkage

  1. It could have international implications and inspire litigation in other nations. 
  2. Privacy is at stake. Supreme Court clarified it and defined it as a “guaranteed fundamental right” in 2017. That SC judgment was hailed by Electronic Frontier Foundation, the pioneering digital civil liberties group.
  3. The right to privacy is fundamental and cannot be reduced under normal circumstances.
  4. The data security of Aadhaar remains doubtful and it is not mandatory even for banking purposes.

What needs to be taken care of

  1. The balance between the imperatives of privacy and security should be maintained.
  2. Right to life is absolute until a death sentence is pronounced, and the right to liberty can be conditional only in a state of unrest or emergency. 
  3. The question of striking a balance with an absolute right cannot arise under normal circumstances. 

Way ahead

  1. Phone numbers associated with social media accounts can identify owners with complete accuracy since sim cards are issued against identity documents.
  2. The technical solution to the problem – AI can identify dubious content by textual analysis and flag it as spam or malware. Twitter proactively swept away Chinese accounts spreading disinformation about the Hong Kong protests. 


The Supreme Court should mandate a technical solution because it cannot encroach upon the very value that is upheld and protected.

Aadhaar Card Issues

[pib] Aadhaar and Other Laws (Amendment) Bill, 2019Bills/Act/Laws


From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : About the amendment

Mains level : Aadhaar and associated issues

  • In a major move aimed at making Aadhaar making people friendly, the Union Cabinet has approved “The Aadhaar and Other Laws (Amendment) Bill, 2019” to replace the earlier ordinance.
  • The Ordinance amongst other things envisaged strengthening of the Aadhaar Act as per the directions of the Supreme Court and recommendations of Justice B.N.Srikrishna Committee.

Details of the Amendment Bill

The salient features of the amendments are as follows—

  • 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 or its alternative virtual identity.
  • 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
  • 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, and appeal thereof in regard to violations of Aadhaar Act.


  • The decision would enable UIDAI to have a more robust mechanism to serve the public interest and restrain the misuse of Aadhar.
  • No individual shall be compelled to provide proof of possession of Aadhaar number or undergo authentication for the purpose of establishing his identity unless it is so provided by a law made by Parliament.
Aadhaar Card Issues

How Justice Chandrachud’s dissent on Aadhaar influenced Jamaica rulingMains OnlySC Judgements


From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : Not Much

Mains level : Aadhaar and associated issues

  • In a recent ruling in Jamaica, its top court stroked down National Identification and Registration Act, which would have allowed collection of biometric information from all citizens to be centrally stored.
  • The apex court of Jamaica relied heavily on Indian SC Justice D Y Chandrachud’s dissenting judgment on the Aadhaar Act last year.

India comes to scene

  • Aadhar data thefts are very well versed in news these days, invoking the dissents for Aadhar.
  • Justice Chandrachud had expressed the sole dissenting opinion in a 4:1 verdict that had upheld the Aadhaar Act.

Dissenting opinion matters

  • The court referred to Justice Chandrachud’s (JC) observation that when biometric systems are adopted in the absence of strong legal frameworks can pose “grave threats to privacy and personal security.
  • Their application can be broadened to facilitate discrimination, profiling and mass surveillance.
  • He also referred to JC’s observations about recent trends indicating reluctance of developed countries to deploy biometric technology including scrapping of the National Id Register and ID cards in the UK.
  • Justice Chandrachud demonstrated a greater sensitivity to the issues of privacy and freedom that is not as evident in the judgments of the majority.
  • He had a clear-eyed view of the dangers of a state or anyone having control over one’s personal information and generally.

Why Indian case is relevant globally?

  • Justice Chandrachud’s observation that absence of an independent regulatory framework renders the Act largely ineffective while dealing with data violations.
  • A fair data protection regime requires establishment of an independent authority to deal with the contraventions of the data protection framework as well as to proactively supervise its compliance.
  • There is a dire need for a strong independent and autonomous body which has the power to examine the operations of the Authority and report to an institution that is independent of the Authority.

Consent at Peril

  • Justice Chandrachud had observed that the “proportionality test failed because the Aadhar Act allowed private entities to use Aadhaar numbers.
  • It would lead to commercial exploitation of the personal data and profiling without consent.
  • Profiling can be used to predict market behaviour and preferences and even influence the choice for political office.
  • These are contrary to privacy protection norms. Susceptibility to communal exploitation renders the relevant provisions arbitrary.
  • The failure to define ‘services and benefits’ also were unreasonable and disproportionate.

Way Forward: One right cannot be taken away at the behest of another

  • The state failed to demonstrate that the targeted delivery of subsidies entails a necessary sacrifice of the right to individual autonomy, data protection and dignity.
  • The technology deployed in the Aadhaar scheme reduces different constitutional identities into a single identity of a 12-digit number.
  • This infringes the right of an individual to identify her or himself through a chosen means.
  • Aadhaar is about identification and is an instrument which facilitates a proof of identity. It must not be allowed to obliterate constitutional identity.
Aadhaar Card Issues

[op-ed snap]A bridge to nowhere


Mains Paper 2: Governance | Government policies and interventions for development in various sectors and issues arising out of their design and implementation.

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important:

Prelims level: Read the attached story

Mains level: Problems marginalized section is facing due to diversion of payments under direct benefit transfer



Poor are facing problems due to diverted payments and aadhar based payment system.


  • The mass diversion of LPG subsidies to Airtel wallets that came to light in 2017.
  • Many of the wallets were unwanted, or even unknown to the recipients. Those affected, fortunately, included millions of middle-class Airtel customers who protested when the goof-up emerged.

What is diverted payments?

  • This is an instance of what might be called “diverted payments” — bank payments being redirected to a wrong account, without the recipient’s consent or knowledge.
  • diverted payments have become a widespread problem in recent years, not so much for the middle class as for powerless people such as old-age pensioners and Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Act (MGNREGA) workers.
  • The main culprit is the Aadhaar Payment Bridge System (APBS).


  • The basic idea of the APBS, an offspring of the National Payments Corporation of India (NPCI), is that a person’s Aadhaar number becomes her financial address.
  • Instead of having to provide multiple account details (say, her name, bank account number and IFSC code) to receive a bank transfer, she only has to provide her Aadhaar number.

Introducing Bank account into ABPS

  • Induction of a bank account into APBS involves two distinct steps, both of which are meant to be based on informed consent.
  • First, the account must be “seeded” with the customer’s Aadhaar number.
  • Second, it must be connected to the NPCI mapper — a step known as “mapping”.
  • In cases of multiple accounts for the same person, the APBS automatically sends money to the latest-mapped account.
  • When the Jan Dhan Yojana (JDY) was launched Aadhaar numbers were seeded into these accounts without proper verification.

Problems and challenges with ABPS

  • Haphazard seeding continued well beyond 2014 because the government wanted to bring all direct benefit transfer (DBT) payments — pensions, scholarships, subsidies, MGNREGA wages, and so on — under the Aadhaar payments umbrella.
  • Thus the groundwork required for APBS to work — reliable seeding of bank accounts with Aadhaar — had simply not been done when the APBS was rolled out.

1.Problems with E-KYC

  • The seeding mess, it seems, was sought to be cleaned up by making “e-KYC” compulsory.
  • To enforce e-KYC, many banks used the “ultimatum method”: a deadline was set, and people’s accounts were blocked when they missed the deadline.
  • Compulsory e-KYC became a nightmare for poor people, for a number of reasons:
    • Some did not know what they were supposed to do.
    • Others had problems of biometric authentication.
    • Others still struggled with inconsistencies between the Aadhaar database and the bank database.
    • Among the worst victims were old-age pensioners.
    • To this day, in Jharkhand, many pensioners are struggling to understand why their pension was discontinued after e-KYC was made compulsory.

2.Forcing of ABPS

  • APBS was forced on millions without consent.
  • Mapping (the induction of an Aadhaar-seeded account into the APBS), according to NCPI and UIDAI guidelines, should be based on an explicit request from the customer.
  • This gives a measure of protection to educated middle-class customers. It ensures, for instance, that they know which account their money is being directed to by the APBS.
  • For poor people, however, consent is a fiction.
  • In Jharkhand at least, bank accounts have been mass-mapped onto the APBS without any semblance of consent.

Impact of diverted payments

  • The result of this premature and coercive imposition of the APBS is that diverted payments have become a serious problem in Jharkhand.
  • For example, recent victims include Premani Kunwar, an elderly widow in Garhwa district who died of hunger on December 1, 2017, two months after her pension was diverted by the APBS to someone else’s account.
  • Others affected are MGNREGA workers.
  • Already discouraged by delays in wage payments, they have to contend now with diverted payments and other pathologies of the APBS.

Other Problems with ABPS

  • rejected payments — another nightmare for powerless DBT recipients.
  • Second, these problems are magnified by a pervasive lack of accountability.
  • When people have problems of diverted or rejected payments, they have no recourse.
  • Third, none of this seems to perturb the agencies that are promoting the APBS and related financial technologies.
  • nobody appears to be in charge of enforcing the consent norms and other “guidelines” issued by the NPCI.


The RBI may be the nominal regulator, but the real action is at the NPCI, the UIDAI and other strongholds of the Aadhaar lobby.The UIDAI did take cosmetic damage control measures from time to time in the last two years. Judging from Jharkhand’s experience, however, the pathologies of the APBS continue to cause havoc on the ground. An independent and participatory review of the system is long overdue.




Aadhaar Card Issues

Indians can use Aadhaar to visit Nepal, BhutanPriority 1


Mains Paper 2: IR | India & its neighborhood- relations.

From the UPSC perspective, the following things are important:

Prelims level: Travel norms mentioned in the newscard

Mains level: India’s ties with Nepal and Bhutan


  • Aadhaar cards are now valid travel documents for Indians under 15 and over 65 travelling to Nepal and Bhutan, according to a Home Ministry communique.

New norms for Nepal

  1. Indian citizens going to Nepal and Bhutan don’t need a visa if they have a valid passport, a photo identity card issued by the government of India or an election ID card issued by the Election Commission.
  2. Earlier, persons over 65 and under 15 could show their PAN card, driving licence, Central Government Health Service (CGHS) card or ration card, but not the Aadhaar, to prove their identity and visit the two countries.
  3. The Aadhaar card has now been added to the list.
  4. A certificate of registration issued by the Embassy of India, Kathmandu, to Indian nationals is not an acceptable travel document for travelling between India and Nepal.
  5. However, the emergency certificate and identity certificate issued by the Indian Embassy in Nepal will be valid for single journey for travelling back to India.
  6. Article 7 the 1950 Indo-Nepal Treaty of Peace and Friendship allows free movement of people between the two nations on a reciprocal basis.

Other rules

  1. Teens between 15 to 18 years will be allowed to travel between India and Nepal on the basis of an identity certificate issued by the principal of their school in a prescribed form.
  2. In case of a family (like husband, wife, minor children and parents) travelling together, all persons will not be required to carry relevant documents (such as a passport or an election ID) if one of the adult members has valid travel papers.
  3. The other family members must have some proof of their identity with a photograph and their relationship as a family, such as a CGHS card, ration card, a driving licence or an ID card issued by school/college.

Why such move?

  1. About six lakh Indians live in Nepal, according to data by the Ministry of External Affairs.
  2. Nepal shares a border of over 1,850 km with five Indian states — Sikkim, West Bengal, Bihar, Uttar Pradesh and Uttarakhand.

A case for Bhutan

  1. Indian nationals travelling to Bhutan need to have either an Indian passport with minimum validity of six months or a voter identity card issued by the Election Commission of India.
  2. Bhutan, which shares borders with the Indian states of Sikkim, Assam, Arunachal Pradesh and West Bengal, has about 60,000 Indian nationals, employed mostly in the hydroelectric power and construction industry.
  3. In addition, between 8,000 and 10,000 daily workers enter and exit Bhutan everyday in border towns.
  4. The 1949 Treaty of Friendship between India and Bhutan allows for free movement of people between the two nations on a reciprocal basis.
Aadhaar Card Issues

[op-ed snap] Aadhar Amendment Bill-How it affects you


Mains Paper 2: Governance| Government policies and interventions for development in various sectors and issues arising out of their design and implementation.

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important:

Prelims level: Basics aspects of Aadhar.

Mains level: The newscard critically analyses the issues wrt Aadhaar and Other Laws (Amendment) Bill, 2018, in a brief manner.


  • The Aadhaar Amendment Bill was pushed through the Lok Sabha— without any debate and no discussion.

Analysis of the proposed Aadhar Amendment Bill and how it can be interpreted in light of the recent SC judgment


  1. Alternative virtual identity
  • Along with the 12-digit Aadhaar enrolment number, an  “alternative virtual identity” generated by the UIDAI has been added when the “requesting entity” asks for verification.
  • Area of concern:  The rules of what a “virtual identity” would be or how it would be used, or even who can use it are not defined.


  1. Children can opt out
  • Section 3A introduced in the Amendment allows a person who was enroled in the Aadhaar system as a child to file an application to cancel their Aadhaar enrolment within six months of turning 18.

Area of concern: While the provision allows a child to opt out of Aadhaar on turning 18 years of age, Aadhaar will still be required for those who want to avail any benefit or subsidy from the government. Further, there is no provision to allow an adult to request cancellation of their Aadhaar enrolment.

  1. Offline verification 
  • Instead of a biometric authentication of Aadhaar number, offline verification using the Aadhaar number has been introduced.

Area of concern: 

  • Section 4 clause 4 of the Amendment Bill includes the term “an entity” which can be permitted by the UIDAI to perform Aadhaar authentication.
  • Activists and lawyers also point out that “an entity” in this clause can include private companies if the government permits them to authenticate Aadhaar. The earlier provision for allowing private entities to conduct Aadhaar authentication had been struck down by the Supreme Court.
  1. Aadhaar as purely voluntary for KYC under the Telegraph Act and under PMLA for Banking and financial services
  • Even though the Supreme Court struck down mandatory Aadhaar linking for KYC of mobile phone connections, and under PMLA for Bank accounts, the Aadhaar amendment specifies that customers can choose Aadhaar authentication, offline verification or their passport or any other form of identification that is allowed by the government.
  • The amendment proposed for the PMLA also recognises that “other reporting entities” that are not banks — i.e., financial institutions — cannot ask for Aadhaar authentication but can use offline verification or other forms of ID.

Area of concern

  • The amendment under PMLA is also slightly unclear since it allows banks to conduct Aadhaar authentication in addition to other forms of identity, which goes against the SC verdict that allowed Aadhaar authentication only for access to government subsidies and services. Also, private banks would come under the definition of “banking services”.
  • Further, the PMLA provision says that “other reporting entities” could also be given access to Aadhaar authentication if they comply with privacy and security standards.
  • This is an area of concern since it could be used to allow private service providers to access Aadhaar authentication.
  1. Civil penalties
  • The Bill also introduces civil penalties for violating Aadhaar norms and illegal access to data under chapter 6A added by the Amendment Act.
  • The proposed Section 33A says that a civil penalty of up to one crore rupees may be imposed on an entity for violating Aadhaar norms. Also, for each additional violation by the same entity, an additional penalty of up to 10 lakh rupees per day may be imposed if violation of the rules continues.
  • The inquiry for such violation will be conducted by a Joint Secretary or higher level officer appointed by the UIDAI.

Area of concern

  • Any person whose identity has been compromised cannot file a civil complaint — only the UIDAI can initiate a complaint about the violation, and the inquiry will be conducted by the UIDAI appointed official.
  • Appeals can be filed before the Telecom Disputes Settlement and Appellate Tribunal by the entity on whom the fine has been imposed. However, only the UIDAI can file an appeal if the adjudicating officer takes a decision in favour of the entity.
  • Also, no complaint can be filed before a civil court. Only the Supreme Court can hear appeals against the order of the Tribunal.
  1. Enhancement of criminal penalties.
  • Criminal complaints can be filed by a person whose identity has been violated. Under Section 38 and 39, which prescribed punishment for corrupting data or accessing the central data repository, or for denying services, the punishment has been enhanced from a maximum of three years to a maximum jail term of 10 years. Under Section 42, punishment has been enhanced from a maximum of one year to a maximum of three years.
  • Also, in what will come as a relief to activists, the amendment in section 47 proposes to allow a person whose identity is violated to approach a criminal court to file a complaint under sections 34 (impersonation), section 35 (appropriation of identity to change information), 36 (unlawful collection of Aadhaar data), 37 (disclosure of identity related information), section 40 (using identity information for other purpose) and 41 (violation by enrolling agency).

Area of concern:

  • All these offences are bailable and carry a jail term of a maximum of three years. Activists had raised concerns about the danger of identity theft and violations. Stricter penalties have been imposed only under sections 38 and 39, for unauthorised access or leaking or distribution of data from the central data repository.
  • Complaints under 38 and 39 can only be made by the UIDAI.
  1. Surveillance and national security
  • Disclosure of Aadhaar data under section 33(1), including authentication of records, can now be done only on the orders of a high court judge. The Aadhaar Act had given the power to a district judge to pass such orders.
  • Also, for disclosure on court orders, both the UIDAI and the person whose data is being disclosed will now be given the opportunity for a hearing. Also, the court cannot order disclosure of core biometric information.
  • Under section 33(2), where the government could order disclosure of Aadhaar data and records “for national security”, the official required to sign off on such a request is now a secretary-level officer, higher than the previous provision of a joint secretary level official.

Area of concern: 

  • The Supreme Court had specifically struck down section 33(2) that allowed for disclosure of identity “for national security” and had said there has to be “involvement of a judicial officer, preferably a High Court judge” before such an order could be passed.
  • This suggestion has been ignored.
  • The national security provision also does not allow for any hearing from the UIDAI or the person concerned. It also does not include the provision to protect core biometrics, as has been specified under 33(1).


  • Any entity that conducts offline verification of Aadhaar cannot conduct online authentication. The collection, storage or use of Aadhaar number or biometric data cannot be done by an entity that conducts offline verification.

Area of concern: 

  • Since the “offline verification” has been introduced by the amendment, how this will actually be conducted is not clear.

Aadhaar Card Issues

Aadhaar Card Issues

[op-ed snap] A renewed attack on privacy: on Aadhaar BillPriority 1SC Judgements


Mains Paper 2: Governance| Government policies and interventions for development in various sectors and issues arising out of their design and implementation.

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important:

Prelims level: Basics aspects of Aadhar.

Mains level: The newscard discusses key features, issues wrt Aadhaar and Other Laws (Amendment) Bill, 2018, in a brief manner.


  • The Lok Sabha, without any attendant discussion, passed the Aadhaar and Other Laws (Amendment) Bill, 2018.
  • The Bill amends the Aadhaar (Targeted Delivery of Financial and Other Subsidies, Benefits and Services) Act, 2016, the Indian Telegraph Act, 1885, and the Prevention of Money Laundering Act, 2002.


Key features of the Bill:

  1. Offline verification of Aadhaar number holder:The Bill allows ‘offline verification’ of an individual’s identity, without authentication, through modes specified by the Unique Identification Authority of India (UIDAI) by regulations.
  1. During offline verification, the agency must(i) obtain the consent of the individual, (ii) inform them of alternatives to sharing information, and (iii) not collect, use or store Aadhaar number or biometric information.
  2. Voluntary use of Aadhaar to verify identity:The Bill states that an individual may voluntarily use his Aadhaar number to establish his identity, by authentication or offline verification. Authentication of an individual’s identity via Aadhaar, for the provision of any service, may be made mandatory only by a law of Parliament.
  1. Entities using Aadhaar:An entity may be allowed to perform authentication through Aadhaar, if the UIDAI is satisfied that it is (i) compliant with certain standards of privacy and security, or (ii) permitted by law, or (iii) seeking authentication for a purpose specified by the central government in the interest of the State.
  1. Aadhaar number of children:The Bill specifies that at the time of enrolling a child to obtain an Aadhaar number, the enrolling agency shall seek the consent of his parent or guardian. The agency must inform the parent or guardian of (i) the manner in which the information will be used, (ii) the recipients with whom it will be shared, and (iii) their right to access the information. After attaining eighteen years of age, the child may apply for cancellation of his Aadhaar.
  1. Disclosure of information in certain cases:Under the Act, restrictions on security and confidentiality of Aadhaar related information do not apply in case the disclosure is pursuant to an order of a District Court (or above). The Bill amends this to allow such disclosure only for orders by High Courts (or above). The Bill also allows disclosure of information on directions of officers not below the rank of a Secretary.
  1. UIDAI Fund:Under the Act, all fees and revenue collected by the UIDAI shall be credited to the Consolidated Fund of India. The Bill removes this provision, and creates the Unique Identification Authority of India Fund.  All fees, grants and charges received by the UIDAI shall be credited to this fund.  The fund shall be used for expenses of the UIDAI, including salaries and allowances of its employees.
  1. Complaints:The Bill allows the individual to register complaints in certain cases, including impersonation or disclosure of their identity. The Bill defines the Aadhaar ecosystem to include enrolling agencies, requesting agencies, and offline verification-seeking entities. It allows the UIDAI to issue directions to them if necessary for the discharge of its functions under the Act.
  1. Penalties:Under the Bill, the UIDAI may initiate a complaint against an entity in the Aadhaar ecosystem for failure to (i) comply with the Act or the UIDAI’s directions, and (ii) furnish information required by the UIDAI. Adjudicating Officers appointed by the UIDAI shall decide such matters, and may impose penalties up to one crore rupees on such entities.  The Telecom Disputes Settlement and Appellate Tribunal shall be the appellate authority against decisions of the Adjudicating Officer.

Why the amendments are proposed?

  1. While upholding the constitutional validity of Aadhaar, the Supreme Court had struck down Section 57 of the Aadhaar Act, 2016 that permitted private entities like telecom companies or other corporate to avail of the biometric Aadhaar data.
  2. Hence to address the issues like recognising the authentification of those who provided Aadhaar as the identity proof, the amendments are brought in by the government.


1. Commercial exploitation

  1. The most strident criticisms of the amendment bill have, however, been reserved for the manner in which it has allowed the private sector to regain access to the Aadhaar infrastructure.
  2. The Bill permits the enactment of a new law allowing the use of Aadhaar by private entities so long as a person voluntarily consents to such authentication.
  3. In contrast to SC ruling which unanimously struck down Section 57 insofar as it applied to private entities.
  4. It would be to enable commercial exploitation of an individual biometric and demographic information by the private entities.
  5. Justice Sikri held that the provision which allows private companies the authority to authenticate identity through Aadhaar, even by securing an individual’s informed consent, the clause is disproportionately contravened the right to privacy.
  6. # Section 57 of the Aadhaar Act allowed both the state and private entities to use the programme to establish an individual’s identity pursuant to a law or a contract. It was on this basis that various notifications were issued allowing corporations of different kinds, including telecom operators, e-commerce firms and banks, to use Aadhaar.

2. Violation of FR

  1. The Supreme Court has found that the operation of Aadhaar by private entities violates fundamental rights, there is today no avenue available for fresh legislative intervention, unless the government chooses to amend the Constitution.
  2. The proposed legislative amendments virtually seek to impose Aadhaar as a prerequisite for the availing of certain basic services.
  3. For example, the amendments proposed state that service providers — telecom companies and banks, respectively, — ought to identify their customers by one of four means: authentication under the Aadhaar Act; offline verification under the Aadhaar Act; use of passport; or the use of any other officially valid document that the government may notify.
  4. Given that only a peripheral portion of India’s population possess passports, Aadhaar is effectively made compulsory.

3. Issue of fraud

  • Allowing private corporations to access and commercially exploit the Aadhaar architecture, as we have already seen, comes with disastrous consequences — the evidence of reports of fraud emanating out of seeding Aadhaar with different services is ever-growing.

4. Disregard to SC judgement

  1. The Supreme Court declared the Section 33(2) as unconstitutional, which allowed an officer of the rank of Joint Secretary to the Government of India to direct disclosure of Aadhaar information in the “interest of national security”
  2. The Bill, merely seeks to substitute the words “Joint Secretary” with “Secretary” in Section 33(2), completely disregarding the Supreme Court’s order demanding inquiry.
Aadhaar Card Issues

Supreme Court Okays Constitutional Validity of AadhaarPriority 1SC Judgements

Image Source


Mains Paper 2: Governance | Government policies and interventions for development in various sectors and issues arising out of their design and implementation.

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important:

Prelims level: Various articles of the Aadhaar Act

Mains level: The newscard ends the debate surrounded by Aadhaar. Every statement of the Judgment is vitally important.



  1. The Hon’ble Supreme Court in a majority opinion upheld Aadhaar as a reasonable restriction on individual privacy.
  2. Aadhaar aims to fulfils the government’s “legitimate aim” to provide dignity to a large, marginalized population living in abject poverty.
  3. The Constitution does not exist for a few or minority of the people of India, but ‘We the People’,” the Supreme Court observed.

A Money Bill

  1. Upholding the passage of the Aadhaar Act as a Money Bill, the Court said neither were individuals profiled nor their movements traced.
  2. This is when Aadhaar was used to avail government benefits under Section 7 of the Aadhaar Act of 2016.
  3. The statute only sought “minimal” biometric information, and this did not amount to invasion of privacy.

Bar on bank-mobile link

  • The majority opinion upheld the PAN-Aadhaar linkage, but declared linking Aadhaar with bank accounts and mobile SIM cards unconstitutional.

Insulating children from the Aadhaar regime

  1. The card was not necessary for children aged between six and 14 under the Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan as right to education was a fundamental right.
  2. Statutory bodies like CBSE and UGC cannot ask students to produce their Aadhaar cards for examinations like NEET and JEE.
  3. Permission of parents and guardians was a must before enrolling children into Aadhaar.
  4. Children once they attained the age of majority could opt out of Aadhaar.

Aadhaar not a hurdle for Divyangs, Elderly

  1. Validating Aadhaar use was not trivializing the problem of exclusion faced by the elderly, the very young, the disabled and several others during the authentication process.
  2. Authentication was found to be only having a 0.232% failure (almost negligible), however it was accurate 99.76% times.
  3. Dismantling the scheme would only disturb this 99.76%.

Aadhaar not a Surveillance tool

  1. Authentication transactions through Aadhaar did not ask for the purpose, nature or location of the transaction.
  2. Besides, information was collected in silos and their merging was prohibited.
  3. The collection of personal data and its authentication was done through registered devices and was not expanded to the Internet.
  4. The Authority did not get any information related to the IP address or the GPS location from where authentication was performed.

Preventing Misuse of Data

  1. The Court quashed or read down several provisions in the Aadhaar Act in order to de-fang any possibility of the state misusing data.
  2. For one, the court held that authentication records should not be retained for more than six months.
  3. It declared the archiving of records for five years as “bad in law.”
  4. It also prohibited the creation of a metabase for transactions.
  5. It read down Section 33 (1), which allowed the disclosure of Aadhaar information on the orders of a District Judge.
  6. This cannot be done now without giving the person concerned an opportunity to be heard.

Striking down certain Sections

Aadhaar Card Issues

[op-ed snap] Shaping digital destinyop-ed snap


Mains Paper 2: Polity | Structure, organization & functioning of the Executive & the Judiciary

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important:

Prelims level: Provisions of the Aadhar Act

Mains level: Pros and Cons of Aadhar


SC verdict on the validity of Aadhar

  1. After six years of litigation, the Supreme Court’s five-judge Constitution Bench has given a landmark judgment declaring Aadhaar as constitutional
  2. SC has ruled that Aadhaar ensures the dignity of individuals and empowers marginalised section of the society
  3. The Court has held that Aadhaar’s architecture does not create a surveillance state
  4.  It has gone on to say that “the Aadhaar Act meets the concept of limited government, good governance and constitutional trust”

Four important decisions

  • First, it strikes down section 57 of the Aadhaar Act
  1. Section 57 was used by the government to compel private companies to demand Aadhaar verification for services
  2. The Court accepted the argument that no rationale exists for this power and declared it invalid
  3. Consequently, the Court has struck downlinking of Aadhaar with mobiles and bank accounts
  4. It has further directed that the data collected shall be deleted within six months
  • Second, it transfers sovereignty and ownership of data back to the citizen to whom it belongs
  1. The Aadhaar law did not give ownership rights to the individual but to the Unique Identification Authority of India
  2. In case of a breach or misuse of his or her data, the individual had no legal remedy
  3. This has been rectified with citizens now having the right to file cases against the government in case of misuse or theft of their data
  • Third, no citizen can be denied benefits if there is a failure of Aadhaar authentication
  1. Various citizens had been denied basic services as they did not have an Aadhaar number
  2. This will help citizens who were unable to get an Aadhar card, particularly the marginalised and underprivileged sections of the society
  • Fourth and perhaps most important that the decision of the Speaker of the Lok Sabha on whether a Bill can be classified as a Money Bill can be subject to judicial review
  1. Prior to this landmark decision, the Speaker enjoyed almost complete immunity from judicial review
  2. The judgment would instil a fear in minds of lawmakers that taking the money bill route will no longer save them from the court’s scrutiny

Journey of Aadhar

  1. After more than six decades of Independence, 60 per cent of India’s 1.2 billion people did not have a basic identity document
  2. By and large local ID documents were used and they became unrecognisable when a person crossed the boundaries of his home state
  3. That was perhaps why a majority of the country’s population did not have a bank account
  4. Against this backdrop, a technologically complex identity programme then called the Unique Identification (UID) Programme, was launched
  5. In 2016, Parliament provided the legislative basis to Aadhaar by enacting the Aadhaar Act

Benefits of Aadhar

  1. Unscrupulous people had manipulated the system by creating ghost and duplicate entities and usurped the benefits intended for the poor
  2. It is well-known that only 15 paise of each rupee spent on welfare programmes reached the intended beneficiaries
  3. Aadhaar helped the government renovate the delivery system and ensure targeted, hassle-free, direct, portable, real-time, auditable delivery of services, benefits and subsidies, free of middlemen
  4. Aadhaar has led to the elimination of crores of ghost and duplicate ration cards and fake MGNREGS job cards & has checked frauds in pension payments and other government schemes including those that benefit students
  5. It will help to curb tax evasion, money laundering, shell companies and benami transactions and bring in financial discipline and greater tax compliance
  6. In the past three years, it has saved the government more than Rs 90,000 crore
  7. The World Bank’s Development Report on Digital Dividends 2016 estimated that the use of Aadhaar in all the Centre’s benefit and welfare schemes could save the government over US $11 billion annually by reducing leakage, and through efficiency-related gains

Way Forward

  1. Aadhaar will undoubtedly be a game changer for the poor and the country as a whole
  2. Every technology has some risks
  3. A mature society must take measures to mitigate risks and not abandon the technology
Aadhaar Card Issues

UIDAI announces phased roll-out of facial recognitionPriority 1


Mains Paper 2: Governance | Government policies and interventions for development in various sectors and issues arising out of their design and implementation.

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important:

Prelims level: Live Face Photo

Mains level:  Making user authentication process more stringent to curb illegal activities.


Facial Recognition for SIM cards

  1. UIDAI has announced the phased roll-out of face recognition feature as an additional mode of authentication, starting with telecom service providers from September 15.
  2. UIDAI has said ‘live face photo’ capture and its verification with the photo obtained in eKYC will be essential in those cases where Aadhaar is used for issuance of mobile SIMs.
  3. As per the Telecom Department’s instructions, if SIM is issued through other means without Aadhaar, then these instructions will not apply.

More responsibility to TSPs

  1. The TSP will have to store the photo captured for face authentication, and ensure that the live photo matches the one in the e-KYC before activating the SIM.
  2. The TSP will have to store both the photos in its database for audit purpose.
  3. But, not all Aadhaar Authentication User Agencies (AUAs) are ready in terms of devices for Face Recognition.

Monetary disincentive to Telecos

  1. It has also proposed a monetary disincentive for telcom companies found deficient on the prescribed targets from the middle of next month.
  2. Any shortfall in transactions using face authentication would be charged at Rs 0.20 per transaction.
  3. For authentication agencies other than telecom service providers (TSPs), UIDAI said specific instructions will be issued on the implementation of face authentication feature, but did not give a fresh deadline.

Making authentication more stringent

  1. The move is aimed at curbing the possibility of fingerprint spoofing or cloning, and seeks to tighten the audit process and security around the issuance and activation of mobile SIMs.
  2. In June, a Hyderabad-based mobile SIM card distributor had forged Aadhaar details for activating thousands of SIMs.
Aadhaar Card Issues

Aadhaar biometric data cannot be used for crime investigations, UIDAI clarifiesPriority 1


Mains Paper 3: Internal Security | Basics of cyber security

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important:

Prelims level:  Unique Identification Authority of India (UIDAI), Aadhaar Act

Mains level: Various issues related to data security and privacy in connection with Aadhar


Only identification is permissible via Aadhar

  1. The biometric data collected by Unique Identification Authority of India (UIDAI) cannot be used for any other purpose except for generating Aadhaar and authenticating the identity of cardholders
  2. Invoking section 29 of the Act, the UIDAI issued a statement after reports emerged about the purported use of Aadhaar biometric data for the purpose of investigating a crime

Exceptions to this clause

  1. The section 33 of the Aadhaar Act allows a very limited exception and permits the use of or access to Aadhaar biometric data in cases involving national security after pre-authorisation by an oversight committee headed by the Cabinet Secretary
  2. This is also the consistent stand taken by the Union of India in the ongoing Aadhaar case in the Supreme Court

Section 29 of the Aadhaar (Targeted delivery of financial and other subsidies, benefits and services) Act, 2016

  1. No core biometric information, collected or created under this Act, shall be—(a) shared with anyone for any reason whatsoever; or (b) used for any purpose other than generation of Aadhaar numbers and authentication under this Act.
  2. The identity information, other than core biometric information, collected or created under this Act may be shared only in accordance with the provisions of this Act and in such manner as may be specified by regulations
  3. No identity information available with a requesting entity shall be—(a) used for any purpose, other than that specified to the individual at the time of submitting any identity information for authentication; or (b) disclosed further, except with the prior consent of the individual to whom such information relates
  4. No Aadhaar number or core biometric information collected or created under this Act in respect of an Aadhaar number holder shall be published, displayed or posted publicly, except for the purposes as may be specified by regulations
Aadhaar Card Issues

Aadhaar virtual IDs becoming a real problem for NBFCsPriority 1

Image result for aadhar virtual id


Mains Paper 2: Governance | Government policies & interventions for development in various sectors & issues arising out of their design & implementation.

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important:

Prelims level: Aadhaar Virtual ID, AUA (Authentication User Agencies) Types

Mains level: Issues created due to the implementation of aadhaar


Virtual IDs for eKYC

  1. The Unique Identification Authority of India’s (UIDAI’s) plan to make non-banking financial companies (NBFCs) use Aadhaar Virtual IDs to authenticate customers from 1 July has put these firms in a fix.
  2. The government introduced 16-digit virtual IDs in a bid to address privacy concerns around sharing Aadhaar numbers at the time of authentication.
  3. Earlier, the Aadhaar data of all customers were synced with credit bureaus, which allowed NBFCs to do eKYC without the need for physical verification, said a digital strategy officer of a top NBFC.

Lending is difficult due to Virtual IDs

  1. NBFCs pointed out that using virtual IDs will give them access to limited details about the customers, which may make lending more difficult.
  2. Since virtual IDs mask the Aadhaar number, NBFCs believe the cost of customer acquisition will rise as they have to do additional physical checks.
  3. NBFCs also point out that many customers are not fully aware of Aadhaar virtual IDs as UIDAI is yet to publicize this new system.
  4. These firms are concerned that it would be left to them to push customers to register for virtual IDs, increasing the cost of customer acquisition.

Problem with UIDAI’s AUA Classification

  1. UIDAI has recently classified entities as global AUAs (authentication user agencies) and local AUAs, depending on their access to Aadhaar data for customer verification.
  2. Banks and life insurers have been categorized as global AUAs and allowed to use Aadhaar numbers to do an eKYC verification.
  3. On the other hand, NBFCs, home financiers, prepaid instrument issuers and telecom companies have been classified as local AUAs and must use Aadhaar virtual ID to perform a one-time-password-based customer authentication.
Aadhaar Card Issues

World Bank praises India’s Aadhaar push


Mains Paper 2: IR | Important International institutions, agencies and fora, their structure, mandate

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important:

Prelims level: The Global Findex database

Mains level: The World Bank’s comment on Aadhar proves its importance and efficiency.


Positive statement from the World Bank on Aadhar push

  1. According to the World Bank, India’s “strong government” push to increase account ownership through biometric identification cards helped narrow both the gender gap and the gap between the rich and poor

Particulars of the Global Findex database 2017
(of the World Bank)

  1. According to the datatbase, India has significantly reduced the gender gap in providing access to financial services with 77% women against 83% men having bank accounts
  2. In India three years ago, men were 20 percentage points more likely than women to have an account
  3. Today, India’s gender gap has shrunk to 6 percentage points thanks to a strong government push to increase account ownership through biometric identification cards

Global condition

  1. Globally, 65% of women have an account compared with 72% of men, a gap of seven percentage points that has been unchanged since 2011

Unbanked population in India

  1. The World Bank noted that India has 190 million adults without a bank account despite the success of the ambitious Jan Dhan Yojana, making it the world’s second largest unbanked population after that of China (225 million)

India is setting example of transparency through Aadhar

  1. The world bank gave the example of India on how switching from cash to digital payments can reduce corruption and improve efficiency
  2. According to the bank, in India the leakage of funds for pension payments dropped by 47% (2.8 percentage points) when the payments were made through biometric smart cards rather than being handed out in cash
Aadhaar Card Issues

Aadhaar linking deadline for govt schemes extended to 30 June


Mains Paper 2: Governance | Government policies and interventions for development in various sectors and issues arising out of their design and implementation.

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important:

Prelims level: Section 7 of the Aadhar Act, 2016

Mains level: Decision of extending the deadline for linking Aadhar to avail different services


Extension of deadline

  1. The government has extended the deadline for linking Aadhaar to avail of various services, subsidies and benefits under section 7 of the Aadhaar (Targeted Delivery of Financial and other Subsidies, Benefits and Services) Act, 2016
  2. The deadline is extended by three months to 30 June
  3. The earlier deadline was 31 March

Importance of section 7 of the Aadhar Act, 2016

  1. Subsidies for cooking gas and kerosene, and even scholarships are transferred to citizens from the Consolidated Fund of India under section 7 of the Aadhaar Act

Other important information regarding the decision

  1. According to an order issued by the policymaking body of the tax department, the deadline for PAN-Aadhaar linking for filing income-tax (I-T) returns is being extended after “consideration of the matter”
  2. The government has now made quoting Aadhaar mandatory for filing I-T returns as well as obtaining a new PAN
  3. The deadline for linking bank accounts and mobile phone numbers with the 12-digit biometric identifier Aadhaar has already been extended indefinitely,
  4. till the five-judge Constitution bench delivers its judgement on petitions challenging the validity of the biometric scheme and the enabling law
Aadhaar Card Issues

[op-ed snap] Aadhaar’s benefits for financial inclusionop-ed snap


Mains Paper 2: Governance | Government policies and interventions for development in various sectors and issues arising out of their design and implementation.

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important:

Prelims level: Read the attached story

Mains level: The newscard talks about how Aadhar can help in achieving targets of financial inclusion through AEPS, biometric system, etc.


Different public interest litigations (PILs) against Aadhar

  1. The PILs filed before the SC against compulsory linking of Aadhaar to bank accounts raise issues about the right to privacy, concerns of being treated on par with money launderers, and the right to be not deprived of property as a result of blocking of bank accounts

Level of financial inclusion

  1. Nearly one in three Indians do not have access to a bank account and one in seven do not have access to credit
  2. These ratios would be much poorer for the eastern and north-eastern parts of the country

Financial inclusion through business correspondents (BCs) 

  1. Guidelines for establishing BCs were introduced by the RBI in 2006 to ensure availability of banking services at an affordable cost
  2. How it works: A company, acting as a business correspondent for a bank, appoints agents to run the brick and mortar customer touch points
  3. Initially launched with a biometric-based authentication system managed by individual banks, these agents have aggressively shifted to Aadhaar-enabled payment system (AEPS) to provide a network for delivery of banking services in far- flung areas
  4. An agent runs a low-cost operation which opens “small” savings accounts, provides deposit and withdrawal services and offers products like micro insurance and Atal Pension Yojana
  5. Central and state government direct benefit transfers are also routed through these accounts
  6. RBI data: According to the RBI Annual Report, 646,000 agents carried out 1,159 million transactions worth Rs2.65 trillion in FY 2016-17
  7. Availability of small savings accounts in far-flung areas has enabled a large number of poor Indians to experience formal banking systems for the first time in their lives

How can the Aadhar system help?

  1. A centralized database and authentication system, like Aadhaar, is better than a distributed system where each bank builds and maintains the biometric database of its own customers
  2. Collecting the biometric information of a customer is a long and expensive process
  3. The high entry costs associated with a distributed system make moving one’s account between banks a cumbersome process
  4. A Centralized system, like AEPS, makes it easy for a new financial services provider to plug in and launch its services

Should it be mandatory to link Aadhaar to bank accounts?

  1.  A mandatory linkage would build economies of scale and improve the network of AEPS enabled point of sale devices and biometric ATMs
  2. This would benefit not only the users of small accounts but also the richer classes with multiple PINs for credit and debit cards
Aadhaar Card Issues

Aadhaar linkage deadline extended indefinitely


Mains Paper 2: Polity | Structure, organization & functioning of the Executive & the Judiciary

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important:

Prelims level: Aadhaar Act of 2016, Consolidated Fund of India, fundamental right to privacy

Mains level: Right to privacy and related issues

Relief to the common man

  1. The Supreme Court on March 13 indefinitely extended the deadline for linking Aadhaar with mobile phones, tatkal passports and for opening bank accounts
  2. The deadline will be extended from March 31, 2018, till the Constitution Bench led by Chief Justice of India pronounces its final verdict on the validity of the Aadhaar scheme

Deadline not extended for availing benefits

  1. March 31, 2018, continues to be the deadline for linking Aadhaar to subsidies, benefits and services prescribed under Section 7 of the Aadhaar Act of 2016
  2. Section 7 of the Aadhaar Act says that the Centre and State governments can insist on Aadhaar for the purpose of establishing the identity of an individual as a condition for receipt of a subsidy, benefit or service for which the expenditure is incurred from the Consolidated Fund of India

Right to privacy

  1. A nine-judge Constitution Bench on August 24, 2017, recognized and upheld privacy as a fundamental right and intertwined it with basic human dignity and right to life
  2. It is argued that the Aadhar scheme, which requires the parting of biometric and personal details, is a coercive step and a stark violation of the ordinary citizen’s fundamental right to privacy
Aadhaar Card Issues

‘Supreme Court can review Money Bill’


Mains Paper 2: Polity | Structure, organization & functioning of the Executive & the Judiciary

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important:

Prelims level: Money Bill, fundamental right to privacy and personal autonomy

Mains level: Debate related to Aadhar and privacy issues

Review of the Money bill

  1. The Lok Sabha Speaker’s decision to declare Aadhaar Bill as a Money Bill attains finality only as far as parliamentarians are concerned
  2. It does not prevent the Supreme Court from judicially reviewing the Speaker’s wisdom
  3. This argument was put up before a five-judge Bench, which is testing whether the Aadhaar scheme is a violation of the fundamental right to privacy and personal autonomy
  4. The bench had earlier raised doubts about whether it can question the Speaker’s decision to declare the Aadhaar Act as a Money Bill
Aadhaar Card Issues

[op-ed snap] Balancing the costs and benefits of Aadhaarop-ed snap


Mains Paper 2: Governance | Government policies and interventions for development in various sectors and issues arising out of their design and implementation.

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important:

Prelims level: Read the attached story on Aadhar

Mains level: Findings of the research and possible solution suggested by the writer.


Contentious policy debates on Aadhar: Supporters Vs. Detractors

  1. Supporters claim that linking Aadhaar with social programmes has helped to reduce leakage and improve targeting of benefits
  2. Detractors argue that savings are minimal and that such linking has increased the exclusion of genuine beneficiaries
  3. Theoretically, both arguments are plausible, which makes this essentially an empirical question

Research has revealed some main insights
(research was done by the writers of the article)

  1. Reaearchers have studied the impact of the integration of biometric authentication into India’s flagship social programmes across several locations and programmes
  2. Their field work has spanned Andhra Pradesh (and present-day Telangana), Chandigarh, Dadra and Nagar Haveli, Puducherry, and Jharkhand; and the National Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme (NREGS), the public distribution system (PDS) and pensions
    Main points
  3. First, results(of success of the aadhar) depend enormously on the details of context, including the programme in question, the specific design of the authentication process, the level and nature of pre-existing fraud, and state-level implementation capacity
  4. Most leakage, in the PDS, was not through identity fraud but quantity fraud, where legitimate beneficiaries were given only a fraction of their entitlement
  5. Unsurprisingly, we find that Aadhaar-backed authentication has had no measurable effect on this form of corruption
  6. Second, it is important to distinguish between the decision to link (or seed) Aadhaar accounts to programme records (which may help to clean up beneficiary databases)
  7. And the decision to make Aadhaar mandatory for authenticating every transaction (which may raise the risk of exclusion error)

What should be done?

  1. In light of these findings, a simple “yes” nor “no” approach to the question of mandatory Aadhaar is not warranted
  2. The approach that works best will inevitably vary across place and programme
  3. Given this, the optimal approach for the SC may be to avoid blanket proclamations, and instead provide guidelines for the government regarding the use of Aadhaar-linked service delivery
  4. This will also help the court stay out of intruding in policy decisions in the executive domain, and keep its focus on ensuring that the most vulnerable beneficiaries are protected during attempts to reduce leakage

The way forward

  1. Aadhaar is a tool with the potential to reduce leakages and improve service delivery
  2. But using this tool to improve the beneficiary experience (as opposed to hindering it) requires continuous effort and democratic oversight
  3. Court guidelines to emphasize the beneficiary experience and independently measure and report it can make an important contribution
Aadhaar Card Issues

UIDAI to add face verification option for Aadhaar authentication

Image source


Mains Paper 3: Science & Technology | developments & their applications & effects in everyday life

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important:

Prelims level: 

Mains level: 

Another option of recognition

  1. The Unique Identification Authority of India, the Aadhaar-issuing authority, has decided to enable face recognition as another means of authentication from July 1, 2018
  2. The decision comes at a time when problems arising due to mismatch of biometrics are being reported about, including those faced by senior citizens with fading fingerprints

Not allowed on solo basis

  1. The face authentication option will be allowed only in the fusion mode
  2. It will have to be done along with another authentication option such as biometrics or one-time password (OTP) on the registered mobile number

Half process already done

  1. The UIDAI has already captured the face photo during enrollment
  2. Face authentication with liveness detection can be used as an additional factor to increase security
Aadhaar Card Issues

This is how UIDAI’s Virtual ID for Aadhaar will work


Mains Paper 2: Polity | Statutory, regulatory & various quasi-judicial bodies.

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important:

Prelims level: UIDAI, Virtual ID (VID), ‘Verhoeff’ algorithm

Mains level: Security concerns related to Aadhar

Virtual ID’ (VID) to safeguard Aadhaar cardholders

  1. The Unique Identification Authority of India (UIDAI) has introduced ‘Virtual ID’ (VID) to safeguard Aadhaar cardholders’ data
  2. VID will be a 16-digit, randomly-generated number which can be used for authentication instead of the original Aadhaar number, according to UIDAI

How will VID work?

  1. VID will be a temporary, revocable 16-digit random number mapped with the Aadhaar number
  2. VID can be generated only by the Aadhaar number holder
  3. It will not be possible to derive Aadhaar number from VID
  4. Last digit of the VID is the checksum using ‘Verhoeff’ algorithm as in Aadhaar number
  5. There will be only one active and valid VID for an Aadhaar number at any given time
  6. UIDAI will provide various options to Aadhaar number holders to generate their VID, retrieve their VID in case they forget, and replace their VID with a new number


Unique Identification Authority of India (UIDAI)

  1. The Unique Identification Authority of India (UIDAI) is a statutory authority established under the provisions of the Aadhaar (Targeted Delivery of Financial and Other Subsidies, Benefits and Services) Act, 2016 (“Aadhaar Act 2016”)
  2. It functions under the Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology (MeitY)
  3. Prior to its establishment as a statutory authority, UIDAI was functioning as an attached office of the then Planning Commission (now NITI Aayog)
  4. UIDAI was created with the objective to issue Unique Identification numbers (UID), named as “Aadhaar”, to all residents of India that is (a) robust enough to eliminate duplicate and fake identities, and (b) can be verified and authenticated in an easy, cost-effective way
  5. Under the Aadhaar Act 2016, UIDAI is responsible for Aadhaar enrolment and authentication, including operation and management of all stages of Aadhaar life cycle, developing the policy, procedure and system for issuing Aadhaar numbers to individuals and perform authentication and also required to ensure the security of identity information and authentication records of individuals
Aadhaar Card Issues

210 govt. websites made Aadhaar details public: UIDAI

Image source


Mains Paper 2: Governance | Citizens charters, transparency & accountability & institutional & other measures

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important:

Prelims level: UIDAI, Aadhar

Mains level: Data security concerns related to aadhar

Data leak on government websites

  1. More than 200 central and State government websites publicly displayed details such as names and addresses of some Aadhaar beneficiaries
  2. The UIDAI took note and got the Aadhaar data removed from the said websites

Is data not secure with UIDAI?

  1. UIDAI has a well-designed, multi-layer approach robust security system in place
  2. It is being constantly upgraded to maintain the highest level of data security and integrity
  3. The architecture of the Aadhaar ecosystem has been designed to ensure data security and privacy which is an integral part of the system from the initial design to the final stage

How does UIDAI ensure data security?

  1. Various policies and procedures have been defined, these are reviewed and updated continually
  2. This helps to appropriately control and monitor any movement of people, material, and data in and out of UIDAI premises
  3. Security audits are conducted on a regular basis to further strengthen security and privacy of data
Aadhaar Card Issues

[op-ed snap] Aadhaar needs a privacy lawop-ed snap

Image source


Mains Paper 2: Governance | Citizens charters, transparency & accountability & institutional & other measures

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important:

Prelims level: Right to privacy, Unique Identification Authority of India (UIDAI), Digital ID research initiative,

Mains level: Right to privacy Vs Aadhar


Supreme Court’s judgment upholding right to privacy Vs Aadhar

  1. The Supreme Court’s (SC’s) landmark judgment upholding our right to privacy has intensified the debate on whether and how Aadhaar infringes on this right
  2. The Unique Identification Authority of India (UIDAI) has unequivocally asserted that Aadhaar meets the privacy test
  3. People from within the government’s fold and outside it, have said that Aadhaar can become an instrument to profile individuals, surveil them, and suppress dissent

Who is correct?

  1. The boring but important truth is that both sides are right—to some degree
  2. Aadhaar, if unregulated, can be a tool to abrogate our privacy
  3. But other tools of the government—such as CCTV cameras, permanent account number (PAN) cards, Digital India, among others—are also capable of invading privacy

Solution for this issue

  1. The solution is not to annul Aadhaar on the grounds of data privacy
  2. Like we do with any tool in the public domain, we need to avail of its benefits and manage the risks
  3. We need to evaluate whether the benefits are worth the risks

Two parallel initiatives required

  1. Rigorous, and independent research such as the Indian School of Business’ digital ID research initiative
  • This is vital to ascertain the benefits and risks across Aadhaar’s uses
  • This can help decide which uses should be furthered, adjusted, or even dropped

2. We need an independent regulator to protect data privacy and regulate data initiatives

  • This regulator must be backed by a robust law, and be competent to understand the nuances of data privacy and keep pace with new developments
  • We are many strides into a digital economy and are already suffering the consequences of this void

What features make Aadhaar particularly potent for database linking?

Four features make Aadhaar particularly potent for database linking

  1. It covers almost all Indian adults
  2. The database has practically no duplicates (according to UIDAI), enabling a higher quality of linking
  3. It uses a 12-digit unique identifier, making linking easy
  4. Over 120 government agencies require Aadhaar to provide services, paving the way for the first step of data linking—seeding each individual database with Aadhaar numbers

How can Aadhar linking be misused?

  1. One potential harmful abuse of Aadhaar is using the unique number to link data sets that previously existed in silos
  2. Depending on the breadth of data sets seeded with Aadhaar, they can be merged to uncover a person’s “food habits, language, health, hobbies, sexual preferences, friendships, ways of dress, and political affiliation”
  3. SC also worried about this in its judgment on right to privacy
  4. Not only is this objectionable in and of itself, such profiling can be used to discriminate against individuals and stifle dissent
  5. Unauthorized database-linking violates almost all the National Privacy Principles, including “Purpose Limitation”
  6. Purpose limitation means “a data controller shall collect, process, disclose, make available, or otherwise use personal information only for the purposes as stated in the notice after taking consent of individuals.”
  7. “Data controllers” (say, criminal investigation agencies or credit card companies) with access to data-sets seeded with unique identifiers, such as Aadhaar, can link databases without due notice or consent and use it nefariously

Way forward

  1. Attacking only Aadhaar for the larger privacy risk of database linking is not based on a practical understanding of how linking works
  2. If Aadhaar ceased to exist, the threat of database linking using unique identifiers will endure, albeit with higher difficulty
  3. There is need for a strong data privacy law and regulator to curb and manage database-linking practices
Aadhaar Card Issues

[op-ed snap] A welfare test for Aadhaarop-ed snap

Image source


Mains Paper 2: Governance | Government policies & interventions for development in various sectors & issues arising out of their design & implementation.

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important:

Prelims level: NFSA, MGNREGA

Mains level: Inefficiencies in PDS as well as Aadhar ecosystem and how to remove them


  1. The Aadhaar ecosystem definitely needs to pass a stringent welfare test much more crucially than the privacy test

Aadhar leading to exclusions in PDS system

  1. There have been reports of widespread exclusion and disruption that Aadhaar may be causing in welfare schemes
  2. It is imperative to ensure that nobody who needs welfare is ever denied
  3. The rights derived from the NFSA and MGNREGA are unconditional

What is required now?

  1. Immediately requirement is a thorough analysis of the denials in PDS
  2. What is the exclusion rate due to targeting errors independent of Aadhaar and how many are excluded only due to Aadhaar?
  3. What is the biometric failure rate across the population, sorted according to age, gender, occupation, and region?
  4. Are the failures inherent to the technology or are they avoidable process errors?

Effective design of digital identity in PDS

Elements of such a design must be based on

  1. an offline identity verification system with opportunistic uploading of cached records
  2. an error-free linking process
  3. deployment of tamper-proof digital weighing machines
  4. end-to-end recording at the supply chain and at the ration shops
  5. effective online receipt systems and online audits
  6. user education and a quick and effective grievance redress system

How would this work?

  1. The offline identity verification may simply be based on digital reading of an encrypted and digitally signed photograph of the beneficiary encoded on the ration card
  2. This will be followed by physical comparison and storing for records along with a time-stamped photograph acquired on the spot with a tamper-proof device
Aadhaar Card Issues

Supreme Court to hear plea against linking Aadhaar to bank accounts, phones


Mains Paper 2: Government policies and interventions for development in various sectors and issues arising out of their design and implementation.

The following things are important from UPSC perspective:

Prelims: Not much

Mains level:  This news is important for mains as it give important points regarding how the linking of Aadhaar to bank accounts violates various laws and provisions. UPSC have been asking about issues like these of national importance which have been in news for a while.




  1. The Supreme Court will hear a petition challenging the government move to link bank accounts and mobile phones with Aadhaar numbers
  2. The court has stated that it violates the fundamental right to privacy and equates citizens, including the elderly, women and students, with money launderers.

What the petition is about?

The petition has challenged Rule 2(b) of the Prevention of Money-laundering (Maintenance of Records) Second Amendment Rules, 2017 for-

Bank Accounts

  1. Mandatory submission of Aadhaar number for individual clients, companies, partnership firms and trusts for opening of bank accounts, maintaining existing bank accounts, making financial transactions of and above ₹50,000 and crediting foreign remittance into small accounts.
  2. Existing bank account holders have been directed to furnish Aadhaar numbers by December 31, 2017.
  3. Non-compliance would render the bank accountsin-operational indefinitely” subject to submission of the Aadhaar Number and the Permanent Account Number (PAN).
  4. Present and potential bank account holders, who do not wish to part with their biometric information, are therefore treated on par with alleged offenders under the Prevention of Money Laundering Act (PMLA).

Mobile Phones

  1. The petition challenges the Department of Telecom on March 23, 2017 making it mandatory for all mobile phone holders to link their mobile phone numbers with Aadhaar.
  2. The mobile phone circular is violative of Article 300A of the Constitution which protects a person’s right to not be deprived of property.


Why plea against linking Aadhaar to bank accounts, phones?

  • The provision regarding bank accounts and mobile phones both separately create an “impermissible artificial distinction” between those who have parted with their private, biometric information and those who have not.
  • They both compel the latter category of the population to part with their biometrics for opening and maintaining bank accounts or for a mobile phone connection.
  • Both the provision and the circular are violative of the Aadhaar (Targeted Delivery of Financial and other Subsidies, Benefits and Services) Act, 2016 which limits the purpose of the Aadhaar number to receipt of a public subsidy, benefit or a service.
  • The Aadhaar number may even compromise the efficacy of the KYC procedures and the customer database.
  • Compelling citizens to part with their biometric details compromises India’s international law obligations.
  • It goes against the very concept of the expression ‘limited government’, which means the State cannot act against the spirit and the assurance of the Constitution.


Aadhaar Card Issues

[op-ed snap] All that data that Aadhaar capturesop-ed snap

Image result for All that data that Aadhaar captures

Image source


Mains Paper 2: Governance | Government policies and interventions for development in various sectors and issues arising out of their design and implementation.

Once you are done reading this op-ed, you will be able to attempt the below.

“The very foundation of Aadhaar must be reconsidered in the light of the privacy judgment.” Critically analyse?

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important:

Prelims level: Particulars of Aadhaar

Mains level: Aadhaar V/S Right to privacy



  1. After denying the right to privacy for years, the government welcomed the judgement
  2. CEO of the UIDAI, asserted, “The Aadhaar Act is based on the premise that privacy is a fundamental right and the judgement would not affect Aadhaar as the required safeguards were already in place.

Aaadhaar and Right to Privacy

  1. Aadhaar, in its current form, is a major threat to the fundamental right to privacy
  2. Common perception that the main privacy concern with Aadhaar is the confidentiality of the Central Identities Data Repository (CIDR). This is misleading for two reasons.
    • One is that the CIDR is not supposed to be inaccessible.
    • On the contrary, the Aadhaar Act 2016 puts in place a framework for sharing most of the CIDR information.
  3. It collects  biometric information, identity information and personal information.
  4. The first two are formally defined in the Aadhaar Act, and protected to some extent. The biggest threat to privacy, relates to the third type of information.
  5. In the Aadhaar Act, biometric information essentially refers to photograph, fingerprints and iris scan, though it may also extend to “other biological attributes of an individual” specified by the UIDAI.
  6. The term “core biometric information” basically means biometric information minus photograph, but it can be modified once again at the discretion of the UIDAI.
  7. One concern is the confidentiality of personal information an individual may not wish to be public or accessible to others. The Aadhaar Act puts in place some safeguards in this respect, but they are restricted to biometric and identity information.

Sharing identity details

  1. The strongest safeguards in the Act relate to core biometric information.
  2. That part of the CIDR, is supposed to be inaccessible except for the purpose of biometric authentication.
  3. There is a view that, in practice, the biometric database is likely to be hacked sooner or later.
  4. Aadhaar Act puts in place a framework to share it with “requesting entities”. The core of this framework lies in Section 8 of the Act, which deals with authentication
  5. Aadhaar Act includes a blanket exemption from the safeguards applicable to biometric and identity information on “national security” grounds.
  6. This effectively makes identity information accessible to the government without major restrictions.

Mining personal information

  1. Aadhaar is a tool of unprecedented power for mining and collating personal information.
  2. For example, suppose Aadhaar number becomes mandatory for buying a railway ticket. With computerised railway counters, government will have all the details of your railway journeys, from birth onwards. The government can do exactly what it likes with this personal information
  3. By the same reasoning, if Aadhaar is made mandatory for SIM cards, the government will have access to your lifetime call records, and it will also be able to link your call records with your travel records.
  4. Nothing in the Aadhaar Act prevents the government from using Aadhaar to link different databases, or from extracting personal information from these databases.
  5. Indeed, many State governments under the State Resident Data Hub (SRDH) project, which “integrates all the departmental databases and links them with Aadhaar number”
  6. Some of the private agencies do have access to a fair amount of personal information from their own databases.
    • Reliance Jio is in possession of identity information for more than 100 million Indians, harvested from the CIDR when they authenticate themselves to buy a Jio SIM card.



Aadhaar Card Issues

Right to Privacy: The sweep from Aadhaar data to sexual identity

Image Source


Mains Paper 2: Governance | Welfare schemes for vulnerable sections of the population by the Centre and States and the performance of these schemes; mechanisms, laws, institutions and Bodies constituted for the protection and betterment of these vulnerable sections.

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important:

Prelims level: Particulars of the ruling

Mains level: Much awaited judgement. It will definitely have implications on many crucial matters.


Landmark Verdict

  1. Nine-judge Constitution Bench of the SC has ruled that individual privacy is a fundamental right
  2. Imapct of the verdict: The ruling will impact daily lives of the people since
  3. It will have implications for matters ranging from collection and sharing of personal data in Aadhar cards to the cases of homosexuality(possibly)
  4. The SC has overruled its earlier verdicts which held that right to privacy was not protected by the Constitution

Other important points from the judgement

  1. The orders(majority) made it clear that this right could not be absolute and would be “subject to the restrictions specified”
  2. Also, the judges rejected the government’s contention that privacy was already protected by various statutes, and that there was no need to elevate it to a fundamental right status

What about Aadhar, now?

  1. The judgment was limited to the issue of right to privacy
  2. The matter whether Aadhaar violates the right to privacy will be dealt with by the five-judge bench hearing the petitions since 2015
Aadhaar Card Issues

Aadhaar required for death certificates

Image Source


Mains Paper 2: Governance | Important aspects of governance, transparency and accountability, e-governance- applications, models, successes, limitations, and potential

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important:

Prelims level: Particulars of the RGI

Mains level: Effective step for reducing fraud in death certificates. Also, it shows greater trust of government on Aadhar.


Why this decision?

  1. The use of Aadhaar for the applicants of Death Certificate will result in ensuring accuracy of the details provided by the relatives of the deceased
  2. This will obviate the need for producing multiple documents to prove the identity of the deceased person
  3. It will provide an effective method to prevent identity fraud
  4. It will also help in recording the identity of the deceased person
  5. The notification for the same is issued by the Registrar General of India (RGI), Ministry of Home Affairs

Warning by Government

  1. Any false declaration given by the applicant in this regard will be treated as an offence under the Aadhaar Act, 2016 and Registration of Birth and Death Act, 1969


Aadhaar Card Issues

Govt moves to check benami, Aadhaar to be made must for property deals

Image Source


Mains Paper 2: Governance | Important aspects of governance, transparency and accountability, e-governance- applications, models, successes, limitations, and potential

From the UPSC perspective, the following things are important:

Prelims Level: Particulars of the Benami Transactions (Prohibition) Amended Act, 2016

Mains Level: Important step to curb black money and related issues.


Move to curb Benami Transactions and the use of black money in Property Deals

  1. The government is planning to make Aadhaar-based authentication mandatory at the time of registration of documents such as agreement for sale, power of attorney,etc.
  2. The government has also firmed up plans to enable electronic registration of properties, for which Aadhaar-based authentication will be a prerequisite
  3. For this, the government is planning to amend Sections 32 and 32A of the Registration Act, 1908
  4. Also, the Aadhaar law allows the Central Identities Data Repository, under the UIDAI, to offer authentication services

Expected benefits of this step

  1. This is expected to ensure foolproof property titles for the buyers
  2. It will also minimise the scope of fraudulent and benami transactions

Other steps taken by the Government to curb black money in real state

  1. The government also enacted the Benami Transactions (Prohibition) Amended Act, 2016 last year
  2. This law empowers authorities to provisionally attach and eventually confiscate benami properties


Aadhaar Card Issues

Login glitch: I-T returns date extended

Image source


Mains Paper 2: Governance | Government policies and interventions for development in various sectors and issues arising out of their design and implementation.

Prelims level: Aadhar, PAN

Mains level: Not much


  1. The Centre on Monday extended the deadline for filing income tax (I-T) returns from July 31 to August 5, citing the last-minute rush coupled with widespread difficulties in linking PAN and Aadhaar.
  2. Government has granted temporary relief to taxpayers without Aadhaar numbers by allowing them to file their I-T returns without linking the PAN to Aadhaar
  3. However, the returns will not be processed until the link between Aadhaar and PAN has been established
  4. May 2017, the government issued a notification saying that the PAN-Aadhaar link was not necessary for certain categories of people such as senior citizens, NRIs, foreigners, and citizens of North Eastern states
  5. But the return filing website is still asking for Aadhaar for senior citizens, and there is no facility to mention nationality, so even foreigners are being made to get Aadhaar.

Name mismatch

  • There are complaints that the taxpayers are not being able to link Aadhaar with PAN because of different names reflected in PAN and Aadhaar database.
  • Issue arising out of the mandatory linking of PAN and Aadhaar is reconciling different names on the two IDs. While Aadhaar allows abbreviations in names, PAN does not, which is causing a lot of problems for people
Aadhaar Card Issues

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


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.

Aadhaar Card Issues

Supreme Court finds govt. defying its order on AadhaarSC Judgements

  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
Aadhaar Card Issues

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
Aadhaar Card Issues

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 Card Issues

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
Aadhaar Card Issues

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 Card Issues

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.
Aadhaar Card Issues

‘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 Card Issues

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
Aadhaar Card Issues

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
Aadhaar Card Issues

Over 100 cr. people have Aadhaar numberSC Judgements

  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
Aadhaar Card Issues

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
Aadhaar Card Issues

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
Aadhaar Card Issues

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 Card Issues

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
Aadhaar Card Issues

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
Aadhaar Card Issues

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.

Aadhaar Card Issues

Aadhar Crisis: Choice, identity and privacyop-ed snap

  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.
Aadhaar Card Issues

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.

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.


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


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

Leave a Reply

Please Login to comment
0 Comment threads
0 Thread replies
Most reacted comment
Hottest comment thread
0 Comment authors
Recent comment authors
newest oldest most voted
Notify of