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President gives assent to ordinance allowing voluntary use of Aadhaar


Indian President Ram Nath Kovind has given his assent to an ordinance that allows voluntary use of Aadhaar as ID proof for obtaining mobile SIM cards and opening bank accounts.

The ordinance was necessitated because the Rajya Sabha could not approve the Aadhaar and other laws (Amendment Bill) 2018, as it was adjourned sine die on February 13, 2019. As a result, many significant bills such as the Aadhaar Bill, Triple Talaq Bill and Citizenship Amendment Bill had lapsed. The Lok Sabha had passed the Aadhaar Amendment Bill on January 4, 2019.

Key Highlights

The Union Cabinet had approved the promulgation of an ordinance to give effect to changes proposed in Aadhaar and two others legislations last week.

The amendments provide for stiff penalties for violation of norms set for the use of Aadhaar and violation of privacy.

The ordinance gives effect to the changes in the Aadhaar Act such as giving a minor an option to exit from the biometric ID programme on attaining 18 years of age.

The amendments also make it clear that anyone not offering Aadhaar cannot be denied any service, be it opening of a bank account or obtaining a mobile phone SIM card.

The amendments will enable UIDAI to have a more robust mechanism to serve the public interest and restrain the misuse of Aadhaar.

The Aadhaar and other laws (Amendment Bill) 2018

  • The bill had sought to amend the Aadhaar Act and two related laws, in order to allow individuals to offer voluntarily biometric ID as a means of identity verification for obtaining services such as opening bank account and procuring mobile phone connection.
  • The bill had also proposed changes in the laws to comply with a Supreme Court judgement pronounced on September 26. 2018, in which it upheld the constitutional validity of unique identification project with certain restrictions and changes. 
  • The court had then prohibited the compulsory use of Aadhaar-based KYC for mobile connections and bank accounts.
  • The bill had also sought to give minors the option to opt out of the 12-digit identity scheme on attaining the age of 18 years. It also provided for stiff penalties for violation of norms set for the use of Aadhaar.
  • Further, it banned storing of core biometric information as well as Aadhaar number by service providers in cases of individuals who have voluntarily offered the national ID as a means of authentication.
  • It also made it clear that anyone not offering Aadhaar cannot be denied any service, be it a bank account or a SIM card.

Other Details

The President also gave his assent to the draft Homoeopathy Central Council (Amendment) Ordinance, 2019.

The ordinance seeks to extend the period for reconstitution of the central council from existing period of one year to two years so that the tenure of the board of governors may be extended for a further period of one year with effect from May 17, 2019.

The President also gave his assent to an ordinance for an amendment to the special economic zones act, 2005.

The present provision of the SEZs Act, 2005 does not permit trusts to set up units in special economic zones.

The amendment will enable a trust to be considered for grant of permission to set up a unit in special economic zones. This will facilitate investments in special economic zones.



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