AADHAAR

The Union government has notified the Aadhaar Act 2016, which would make it mandatory for people to acquire an Aadhaar card to avail  financial subsidies and benefits, reports the Economic Times. This would operationalize the Act and give it a legal framework for the issuance and use of the Aadhaar.

Following this, the government will be appointing the next chairperson for the Unique Identification Authority of India (UIDAI) with recommendations from a committee headed by the cabinet secretary. The committee consists of secretaries from the department of personnel and training, department of finance and department of IT and technology and two experts from the communications and IT minister.

The new chairperson will draw the salary of a secretary,the publication added. The post of the chairman was vacant since Nandan Nilekani resigned over two years ago in 2014.

The Aadhaar Act was passed in Parliament in March as a money bill which bypassed voting in the Rajya Sabha. A money bill exclusively contains provisions for imposition and abolition of taxes, for appropriation of moneys out of a consolidated fund.

Earlier in the budget, finance minister Arun Jaitley said that the government will enact a law where Aadhaar will be given statutory backing. The finance minister also said that the government will develop a social security platform using Aadhaar to target intended beneficiaries.

Supreme Court ruling

In August 2015, the SC had made Aadhaar optional except for public distribution system and LPG connections. Various State governments, including Gujarat and Jharkhand along with central bodies such as RBI, SEBI, TRAI and the Pension Regulatory Authority returned to the court saying the August order had become a roadblock for people with Aadhaar to enrol in other social benefit schemes.

Earlier in 2014, the Supreme Court had ruled that Aadhaar cannot be mandatory for any government service.

Increase of Aadhaar for government schemes

In recent times, there has been an increase in government schemes being linked to government schemes. The UIDAI’s website shows that there are 103,10,55,254 Aadhaar cards issued. Recently, the Maharashtra home department made it mandatory  to use Aadhaar to file a police complaint and Karnataka’s Food and Civil Supplies Minister UT Khader has said that for a month, ration supplies will not be stopped for those without an Aadhaar card or Aadhaar numbers linked to ration cards.

In Assam, lakhs of LPG consumers received messages saying that their LPG subsidy had been put on hold because they hadn’t submitted their Aadhaar number. HuffingtonPost reports that Jaspal S Sandhu, the Secretary of the UGC sent a letter to Vice Chancellors of all universities, making it mandatory for the use of Aadhaar for “disbursement of all government subsidies, scholarships and fellowships.”  More on that here and here.

According to a report in Mint, as of 25 May, 219 million bank accounts were opened under the Jan Dhan Yojana, of which over 100 million were linked to Aadhaar. In comparison, there were 158 million accounts a year ago, of which 61 million accounts were Aadhaar-linked.

Also read: Aadhaar requires safeguard conferring right, enforceable through writ – Apar Gupta