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Analysis of Aadhaar Act 2016

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Use of Aadhaar Number

  • Establishing identity: (Sections 4, 6, and 57) The Aadhaar number can be used by the government or private agency to validate a person’s identity for any lawful purpose, but it cannot be used as a proof of citizenship. The Act allows even private bodies to use the Aadhaar number for the purpose of verification of identity.
  • Mandatory for access to government services: For the purpose of receiving any subsidy, benefit or service the expenditure of which is incurred from the Consolidated Fund of India, the government can make it mandatory for a person to authenticate her/his identity using Aadhaar number.
  • Those without a number, must apply for one: (Section 7) Those without Aadhaar number have to make an application for enrollment, for availing or accessing services and in the meantime will be allowed to use an alternative method of identification. Analysis of the above sections suggests that:
  • Aadhaar is mandatory and compulsory, and in fact not voluntary: Section 7 makes its mandatory to have an Aadhaar number to access services, subsidies and benefits, and stipulates that in case one does not have the Aadhaar number they must apply for it. This is exactly contrary to what is mentioned in the Act about Aadhaar being purely voluntary. In fact, it is also contrary the orders/directives of the Supreme Court dated 11 August 2015 wherein directives were issued to the Government to ensure that enrollment for Aadhaar would be voluntary, with the exception of a few specified services. Interestingly, the Act does not limit the mandatory use of Aadhaar to those specified services, and in fact has been expanding the scope of included services for more benefits, subsidies and services irrespective of whether being paid for from the Consolidated Fund of India.
  • Unclear as to who is eligible for viable and alternative means: The Act has made a provision for identification through other “viable and alternative” means in cases where the individual has no Aadhaar number, but the language of the Act is rather misleading in as much as it refers to “cases where Aadhaar is not assigned” which in fact means that that everybody is expected to have one assigned to themselves at some point or the other, leaving no room to stay out of the system.
  • The objects and scope are not in consonance with each other: There is a conflict between the objects of the Act. The object clause identifies the purpose of the Act as identification of individuals for targeted delivery of entitlements. While the scope of the Act extends to both public or private entities to use Aadhaar number for authentication.

Enrollment Process

  • Notice by enrolling agencies: (Section 3) At the time of enrollment, the enrolling agency has to inform the individual of the following details—
    1. How the information collected will be used;
    2. With whom and which entities the information will be shared;
    3. That individuals have a right to access their information, and have to inform them how they can access their information.
  • Collection of biometrics and demographics details: (Section 2) Biometric information and demographic information will be collected at enrollment. Biometric information means photograph, fingerprint, Iris scan, or any other biological attributes specified by regulations. Demographic information includes information relating to the name, date of birth, address and other relevant information as specified by regulations.
  • Special measures to ensure enrollment for all: (Section 5) Provisions have been made to issue Aadhaar number to women, children, senior citizens, persons with disability, unskilled and unorganised workers, nomadic tribes and to such other persons who do not have any permanent residence and similar categories of individuals as specified by the regulations.

Analysis of the sections above suggest:

  • Implementation issues: The Act has no system in place to address issues that have arisen during enrolment processes which are already in use. These include – the collection of additional and unnecessary information, unclear retention, storage, and destruction standards for data collected by enrollment agencies, abuse of methods used to ensure all have access to the enrollment process, inaccuracy in the collection of data. Detailed procedure and chain of custody for the enrollment process is not addressed under the Act particularly as the collection has been contracted out to third party registrars and enrolling agencies.
  • Very broad and ambiguous definition of the term “Biometric Information”: The Act defines “biometric information” as “photograph, fingerprint, iris scan, or other such biological attributes of an individual.” This definition is too broad and allows for too much of discretionary power in the hands of the UIDAI / Central Government to indicate what “other such biological attributes of an individual” may include. There should be no scope for interpretation which is exhaustive in nature and has to be instead restrictive and concise.

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Analysis of Aadhaar Act 2016. (2019, February 27). GradesFixer. Retrieved December 3, 2020, from
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