The Indian Government has launched an Aadhaar-based digital life certificate called Jeevan Pramaan for pensioners, which is expected to make the process of pension payments simpler.

Currently, pensioners are required to submit a physical Life Certificate issued by authorities and specified by the Central Pension Accounting Office (CPAO) in November each year in order to continue receiving pension. Alternatively, the person had to be personally present at the Pension Disbursing Agency.

The new system, being developed by the Department of Electronics and IT (DeitY), consists of a software application which enables recording the pensioner’s Aadhaar number and biometric details from a mobile device or computer via a biometric reading device. Key details about the pensioner, along with the date, time and biometric information can then be uploaded to a central database in real-time, enabling the Pension Disbursing Agency to directly access a Digital Life Certificate. This will establish that the pensioner was alive at the time of authentication, without them having to be physically present.

This software will be made available to pensioners and other stakeholders at no extra cost, and can be operated from a computer or a smartphone with a biometric device. The facility will also be available at Common Service Centres under the National e-Governance Plan, to benefit pensioners living in remote and inaccessible areas.

As of now, about 50 lakh individuals get pension from the Central Government, with a similar number drawing from the State and Union Territory Governments, and about 25 lakh drawing pension from the armed forces. While this move will certainly benefit many, it will be interesting to see if linking Aadhar will be made mandatory for drawing pensions at all.

SC ruling on Aadhaar: The Supreme Court had ordered the government to not link social benefits to Aadhaar, in September last year. the West Bengal Assembly had also passed a resolution asking for the Central government to delink Aadhar from the Direct Benefits Transfer scheme, specifically LPG subsidy, in December the same year.

A number of state government run schemes had made Aadhaar mandatory, including the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) which linked Aadhaar to employee salary, the revenue department made Aadhaar mandatory for services offered by the department, and the Bombay High Court had even suggested the state government to consider linking Aadhaar to ration cards to reduce instances of fake and duplicate cards.