When Aadhar was introduced by the previous UPA government, it met with quite a bit of opposition from the people, the supreme court and the opposition party at the centre. But it can be argued that the UIDAI has been a stupendous success, considering that it managed to provide almost the entire national population with a universal means of identification. This, notwithstanding the technical glitches that used to and still does haunt the project.
Ever since the new government led by Prime Minister Narendra Modi have taken over the charge at the Centre, they have been trying their best to push Aadhar card as the only means of identification proof for every Indian citizen.
History of opposition to Aadhar Card
The Supreme Court has been always been very vocal in its opposition of the mandatory requirement of Aadhar. In August, 2015, the apex court had announced that till such time as a Constitutional bench comprising of 5 or more supreme court judges hears a set of petitions pending on Aadhar, the government can’t make Aadhar mandatory for all matters and purpose except for some select government schemes as permitted by the apex court.
The supreme court had allowed the following government schemes to use Aadhar as a mandatory requirement:
- The Public Distribution System (PDS).
- Distribution of subsidy for LPG.
- Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Act (MGNREGA).
- Pension schemes under National Social Assistance Programme.
- The Pradhan Mantri Jan Dhan Yojana (PMJDY).
- The Employees’ Provident Fund Organisation (EPFO).
Even after the supreme court directive, a number of government departments have gone ahead with making furnishing Aadhar details a prerequisite to avail a range of services.
The position of importance the Aadhar currently holds
This year, the Central government announced a number of rules, laws and plans to make it impossible to get a PAN card, get a bank account, file tax returns, get a driving license or have a You will also receivemobile number without Aadhar details. Different ministries and states also put out a list of notifications making Aadhar mandatory for accessing multiple social welfare schemes. This despite the supreme court recently reasserting its earlier stand stating the Government cannot possibly refuse social welfare benefits to the citizens citing lack of Aadhar number as a reason.
Aadhaar Pay App
The government launched on Tuesday an Aadhaar card-linked payments system that will allow customers to ditch their debit and credit cards and pay using fingerprints.
Aadhaar Pay, a new Android-based smartphone app, will also eliminate the fee charged by private card companies such as MasterCard and Visa. The app is available on Google Play Store.
List of schemes that now requires Aadhar
Here is a list of things that the government has now made an Aadhar card mandatory to access:
- The central government has made it mandatory to provide Aadhar details to open a new bank account and for conducting any transaction of more than Rs.50,000. By 31 December, 2017, all existing bank accounts also have to have their Aadhar details linked to them.
- In a controversial move, the Union Ministry for Health has made Aadhar mandatory for Tuberculosis patients to access healthcare under the National Tuberculosis Control Programme (RNTCP). All patients will now have to furnish Aadhar to avail cash assistance under this scheme.
- From 01 July, 2017, it has been mandatory to provide Aadhar details for anyone applying for PAN card or filing I-T returns.
- All existing Pan Card also need to be linked to Aadhar by 31 December, 2017, or the PAN numbers will become invalid.
- From October, 2017, Aadhar is set to become mandatory for applying for a new driver’s license and also for renewing old driving license. Since driving license issuance is governed by individual states, the Central Government will have to coordinate with various state governments to implement this. The National Informatics Centre has earlier begun digitising license information maintained manually previously by the RTOs, to have a national searchable database of driving license-holders.
- Every mobile service provider have been instructed to verify existing customers KYCs (know your customer) via Aadhar-based e-KYC process by 6 February, 2018. This means that all mobile numbers will now have to be linked to an Aadhar number. Already new sims cannot be purchased without providing a valid Aadhar number.
- Aadhar has already been mandatory since 2015 for programmes like MGNREGA, distributing LPG subsidies, Pradhan Mantri Jan Dhan Yojana (PMJDY), and providing free rations under the PDS, with the blessings of the Supreme Court.
- The University Grants Commission (UGC) of India has made it mandatory for students to provide Aadhar number in order to get their university degrees. A new directive has also gone out to all institutions and universities to include students’ Aadhar numbers and photographs in the certificates and degrees they issue.
- Many states have made the use of Aadhar mandatory for a number of reasons. For example, Tamil Nadu has made it compulsory for anyone wishing to register a new vehicle to provide their Aadhar numbers along with their mobile numbers and PAN cards from now on. Andhra Pradesh and Telangana also made Aadhar number compulsory for all Regional Transport Organisations related transactions.
- Aadhar has also become necessary for Gods with Andhra Pradesh’s Tirumala Tirupati Devasthanams (TTD) making it mandatory to furnish Aadhar as identification document for participating in their angapradakshinam ritual, to ensure any single person cannot repeatedly avail of the service.
- Aadhar has also been made mandatory to receive benefits for variety of welfare programmes targeted towards the scheduled caste and other backward caste population, including benefits under the following Acts:
- Protection of Civil Rights Act, 1955.
- Implementation of Protection of Civil Rights Act, 1955.
- SC and ST Prevention of Atrocities Act 1989.
- The central government has made Aadhar card mandatory for almost 3 dozen schemes and programmes under its ministries, such as getting scholarships, fellowships, and benefits such as free uniforms, books, and stationery in educational institutions, in just last 3 months.
- Aadhar has also been made compulsory for children looking to get enrolled for the Midday Meal Scheme at primary schools, and for receiving any assistance under the Scheme of Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan.
- Aadhar has been made compulsory for all staff members working with the National Health Mission, and also for all beneficiaries covered under it.
- Aadhar is now mandatory for enrollment in any programmes for skill-development offered by the Indian Government.
- Schemes offered by the Ministry of Women and Child Development like the Ujjwala Scheme for rescue, prevention and rehabilitation of victims of trafficking, the Training and Employment Programme, and Swadhar Greh scheme for women living under bad socio-economic conditions will now require Aadhar.
- All farmers availing government farming subsidies on fertilisers, seeds, soil testing service, etc. also need to mandatorily furnish their Aadhar card. Maharashtra government has also made Aadhar a requirement to avail crop insurance.
- Aadhar is mandatory to access for home construction funds available under the Pradhan Mantri Awas Yojana.
- Senior citizens need to provide Aadhar details to get old-age pensions, avail train ticket subsidies or enrolling in central government’s adult education programmes.
- Pregnant women seeking free medicines, cash transfers, nutrition support, and such other benefits under the Maternity Benefit Programme and Integrated Child Development Services also need to have an Aadhar identification.
The future of Aadhar as a mandatory requirement
The Supreme Court’s observations on this ever-expanding space of Aadhar is two-fold. Despite the widespread outrage over making Aadhar mandatory for such things as I-T returns, driving licenses and so on, the Court ruled that the government cannot be stopped from using Aadhar on non-benefit schemes.
However, the Supreme Court has not changed its position on the use of Aadhar for welfare schemes since 2015. Although this has not stopped the government from making Aadhar number mandatory for all the above mentioned benefit schemes. It remains to be seen how the Supreme Court will react if the central government continues down this road.