When we reported the mandatory usage of Aadhaar card for various purposes – train tickets, banking operations, business registration, SIM Cards and more, the most common question which we received was about it’s legal backing. Last year, Supreme Court had said that usage of Aadhaar Card should be a voluntary exercise, and citizens cannot be forced to use it.
Clearly disturbed by the Supreme Court verdict, Govt. attempted every possible method to make the usage of Aadhaar card as a legal enforcement. And the first step was taken earlier this year when Modi Govt. converted Aadhaar Bill (Targeted Delivery of Financial and Other Subsidies, Benefits and Services) as money bill, passed it in Lok Sabha.
The movement to fully legalize Aadhaar usage has now reached its crescendo, as Govt. notified all but one provision of the Aadhaar Bill (Targeted Delivery of Financial and Other Subsidies, Benefits and Services). In layman terms, this means that Aadhaar Card has now legal backing, and the Govt. of India can (and will) impose its usage forcefully, across every Govt. scheme.
The only exception to the mandatory usage of Aadhaar card is the issue of privacy, based on which Supreme Court has still stop its usage. But privacy is a subjective matter, and there are tons of legal loopholes to make this issue a minor one.
Attorney General Mukul Rohatgi, representing Indian Govt. has confirmed this development, as he said, “The earlier challenge against mandatory use was against an executive notification that conceived Aadhaar. Now, the law takes care of all concerns surrounding potential misuse”
Hence, when it comes to implementing Govt. schemes, then there can be no legal obstruction in mandating Aadhaar usage. This is big win for Indian Govt., when it comes to forcing the usage of Aadhaar Card.
What Can Change Now?
After this legal backing, it is clear that any Indian who wishes to avail any Govt. scheme, needs to have an Aadhaar card; or else the benefits won’t be provided.
Govt. schemes such as Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Act (MGNREGA), Jan Dhan Yojana, different types of pension schemes, transfer of cooking gas subsidy, the employees provident fund, the public distribution system etc will be now mandated to have Aadhaar card beneficiary.
Although Aadhaar was required earlier as well, but the move was legally challenged in Supreme Court, the case for which is still on. However, with the Govt. notification on all major provisions of the Aadhaar Bill, the legal challenge to mandatory usage of Aadhaar has been weakened. And most probably lost.
Sociologists such as S.L. Rao, former director general of the National Council for Applied Economic Research has termed this as a good decision, but has raised the issue of misusing biometric data.
Privacy Is The Biggest Issue
Ironically, privacy of Indian citizens, is the only provision within Aadhaar Bill which hasn’t been notified by the Government. This clearly means that Govt. is still not sure how to proclaim 100% safety of Aadhaar Card data, which includes biometric data of 100 crore+ Indians.
Tathagata Satpathy, Lok Sabha Member from Odisha, had earlier asked the Govt.: “Can the government … assure us that this Aadhaar card and the data that will be collected under it – biometric, biological, iris scan, finger print, everything put together – will not be misused as has been done by the NSA in the US?”
Biometric data of 120 crore Indians will give Indian Govt. more power to carry out mass surveillance of its citizens, compared to even NIA of USA.
Not everything is in black and white, when it comes to Aadhaar Card usage, and its forceful implementation across India – doubts regarding privacy are simply refusing to go.
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