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  • The Aadhaar and other laws (Amendment Bill) 2018 was introduced in the Lok Sabha. The Bill is to amend the Aadhaar (targeted delivery of financial and other subsidies, benefits and Services) Act 2016 and further to amend the Indian Telegraph Act 1885 and the Prevention of money laundering Act 2002.

Features of the Amendment Bill:

  • The amendment would provide legal backing for seeding of biometric ID Aadhaar with mobile numbers and bank accounts as an optional KYC (know your customer) after the Supreme Court barred mandatory use of the 12-digit unique identification number by private firms.
  • This means the amendment allows voluntary use of Aadhaar for mobile SIM card and bank account authentication.
  • The proposed amendments also make provision for ‘Virtual ID’ and voluntary and offline modes of using Aadhaar.
  • It also gives 18-year-olds the chance to opt out of the system within six months of reaching the age. The consent of the parent or guardian is a must for enrolling a child in Aadhaar. The amendment also specifies that a child should not be denied any subsidy, benefit or service for want of Aadhaar.
  • The government has also proposed a penalty of up to Rs 1 crore on entities that violate the provisions of Aadhaar Act, with an additional fine of up to Rs 10 lakh per day in case of continuous non-compliance.

Aadhar Judgement:

  • The SC has held the biometric-based identification programme, Aadhaar, to be constitutionally valid. It said, obtaining Aadhaar continues to remain voluntary.
  • Concerns about privacy of personal data have been addressed. SC asked the Central government to introduce a robust data protection law as soon as possible based on the recommendations of the BN Srikrishna committee report.
  • It retains the primacy of its use in distribution of subsidies and social welfare benefits to the poor. It stated that Aadhaar empowers the marginalised sections of society and gave them an identity and dignity.
  • The court also noted that the failure rate of the scheme was just 0.232%. The remedy is to plug the loopholes rather than axe the project, the Bench said.
  • SC felt that the technology has become a vital tool for ensuring good governance in a welfare state. The Majority Judgement upheld the passage of the Aadhaar Act as a Money Bill.
  • SC has made exception for children saying that no child can be denied benefits of any scheme if he or she doesn’t have Aadhaar card.

Key Concerns of the Opposition:

  • Infringement of privacy of the individual as KYC norms are made stricter.
  • The bill is in violation of the Supreme Court’s judgment of Aadhar.
  • Utilization of Aadhar including biometric data by private companies affecting the liberty and privacy of the individual.
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