Aadhaar Card Issues

Jun, 23, 2018

Aadhaar biometric data cannot be used for crime investigations, UIDAI clarifies


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
Jun, 19, 2018

Aadhaar virtual IDs becoming a real problem for NBFCs

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.
Apr, 20, 2018

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
Mar, 29, 2018

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
Mar, 29, 2018

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


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
Mar, 14, 2018

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
Mar, 08, 2018

‘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
Mar, 06, 2018

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


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
Jan, 16, 2018

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
Jan, 11, 2018

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
Nov, 20, 2017

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
Nov, 15, 2017

[op-ed snap] Aadhaar needs a privacy law

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
Nov, 04, 2017

[op-ed snap] A welfare test for Aadhaar

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
Oct, 16, 2017

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.


Sep, 09, 2017

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

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.



Aug, 25, 2017

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

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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
Aug, 05, 2017

Aadhaar required for death certificates

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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


Aug, 02, 2017

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

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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


Aug, 01, 2017

Login glitch: I-T returns date extended

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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
Dec, 01, 2016

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.

Sep, 26, 2016

Supreme Court finds govt. defying its order on Aadhaar

  1. Violation: SC discovered that the Centre has been insisting that students submit their Aadhaar number for applying for Govt scholarship schemes
  2. Background: On October 15, 2015, a Constitution Bench had held that citizens cannot be forced to produce Aadhaar to avail themselves of government welfare schemes and benefits
  3. It had even hinted that the government risked contempt of court if it chooses to continue to make the Aadhaar number a mandatory condition
  4. However, it had extended the voluntary use of Aadhaar cards to the MGNREGA, pensions schemes, Employee Provident Fund and the Prime Minister Jan Dhan Yojana
Sep, 16, 2016

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
Sep, 16, 2016

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?

Aug, 04, 2016

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
Jul, 29, 2016

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.
Jun, 22, 2016

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.
May, 11, 2016

‘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
Apr, 26, 2016

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
Apr, 12, 2016

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
Apr, 05, 2016

Over 100 cr. people have Aadhaar number

  1. News: The UIDAI had generated 100th crore Aadhaar number, in five-and-half years since the first Aadhaar was issued in 2010
  2. The Aadhaar Act has complied with the standards set by the Supreme Court to ensure privacy in cases of phone tapping
  3. Measures: The core biometrics that are fingerprints and iris, shall not be shared with anyone for any reason whatsoever
  4. Statistics: Aadhaar coverage now is at 93% among people above the age of 18
Mar, 17, 2016

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
Mar, 15, 2016

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
Mar, 12, 2016

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
Mar, 04, 2016

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
Mar, 01, 2016

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
Oct, 16, 2015

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.

Aug, 13, 2015

Aadhar Crisis: Choice, identity and privacy

  1. SC has made it clear that Aadhar cannot be insisted by any authority as a pre- condition for citizens to avail any benefit. Why?
  2. Making Aadhaar a mandatory would cause hardship to various sections as people stand to lose benefits or be denied routine services.
  3. Govt. can continue linking Aadhar cards for PDS and PAHAL scheme by linking Aadhar cards.
  4. However, there is a need for an effective identification mechanism to authenticate beneficiaries for delivery of services.
  5. But, any mechanism with no legal backing and without clear norms endangers misuse of the personal information and biometric data.
Mar, 17, 2015

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.