Govt introduces Aadhaar amendment Bill in Lok Sabha

Our Bureau New Delhi | Updated on January 02, 2019 Published on January 02, 2019

Changes will enable voluntary use of Aadhaar for SIM card, bank authentication

The government has introduced a Bill in the Lok Sabha to amend certain existing laws to provide legal backing for voluntary seeding of biometric Aadhaar ID for mobile SIM card and bank account authentication purposes.

The new Bill, Aadhaar and Other Laws (Amendment) Bill 2018, would amend the Telegraph Act and the Prevention of Money Laundering Act (PMLA) to provide for voluntary sharing of the 12-digit identification number for obtaining new mobile phone connections and opening bank accounts.

This government move comes on the heels of Supreme Court’s judgment in September 2018 striking down Section 57 of the Aadhaar Act that made seeding of the biometric ID with SIMs and bank accounts mandatory, stating that it had no legal backing.

Replying to the objections raised by a few opposition members in the Lower House today, Ravi Shankar Prasad, Union Law and Justice and IT Minister, said: “Let me clarify at the outset that the proposed amendment is done in compliance with the Supreme Court judgment. It (linking) is not mandatory at all, but voluntary, whereby an alternative mode of authentication is being provided.”

He said that the Bill was not in violation of the Supreme Court judgment and that Parliament has the authority to move a Bill on the basis of the judgment.

Objections were raised on the Bill by Shashi Tharoor (INC), Saugata Roy (Trinamool Congress) and NK Premachandran (RSP).

The amendments moved would also permit children, who would turn 18 years old, to opt out of the system. The amendment Bill was cleared by the Union Cabinet in mid-December last year. The amendments will make sharing of Aadhaar details voluntary for opening bank accounts, school admissions and procuring mobile SIM cards.

Prasad also said that it should not be forgotten that Aadhaar has led to savings of ₹90,000 crore in Direct Benefit Transfer.

Data protection

On the issue of data protection, Prasad said that the Data Protection Bill is ready and will be introduced soon in Parliament. The entire Aadhaar architecture will be in tune with the data protection law, Prasad said.

Prasad also said that parallel authentication is being introduced to safeguard the privacy of individuals. In the alternative method, an individual need not disclose his Aadhaar number.

Under the amendments, an Aadhaar holder can opt for offline verification through a QR code and will not be required to share his or her actual Aadhaar number.

Published on January 02, 2019

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