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UIDAI Enrollment of Prisoners

  • 19 Nov 2022
  • 8 min read

For Prelims: CAG, UIDAI, Aadhaar Act 2016

For Mains: Aadhaar and related issue, Government Policies & Interventions

Why in News?

Recently, as a special measure to enroll prison inmates across the country, the Unique Identification Authority of India (UIDAI) has agreed to accept the Prisoner Induction Document (PID) as a valid document for enrolment or update of Aadhaar.

  • Though the campaign to extend Aadhaar facility to prisoners was launched in 2017, the process did not take off on expected lines since enrolment to the scheme required valid supporting documents prescribed by the UIDAI.

What is the Unique Identification Authority of India?

  • Statutory Authority: The UIDAI is a statutory authority established on 12th July 2016 by the Government of India under the jurisdiction of the Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology, following the provisions of the Aadhaar Act 2016.
    • The UIDAI was initially set up by the Government of India in January 2009, as an attached office under the aegis of the Planning Commission.
  • Mandate: The UIDAI is mandated to assign a 12-digit unique identification (UID) number (Aadhaar) to all the residents of India.
    • The overall Aadhaar saturation level in the country has crossed 93%, and in the case of the adult population it is nearly 100%

What is the Significance of Aadhaar?

  • Promoting Transparency and Good Governance: Aadhaar number is verifiable in an online, cost-effective way.
    • It is unique and robust enough to eliminate duplicates and fake identities and thus used as a basis/primary identifier to roll out several Government welfare schemes thereby promoting transparency and good governance.
  • Helping Bottom of the Pyramid: Aadhaar has given identity to a large number of people who did not have any identity earlier.
  • Neutral: Aadhaar number is devoid of any intelligence and does not profile people based on caste, religion, income, health and geography.
    • The Aadhaar number is a proof of identity, however, it does not confer any right of citizenship or domicile in respect of an Aadhaar number holder.
  • People-Centric Governance: Aadhaar is a strategic policy tool for social and financial inclusion, public sector delivery reforms, managing fiscal budgets, increasing convenience and promoting hassle-free people-centric governance.
  • Permanent Financial Address: Aadhaar can be used as a permanent Financial Address and facilitates financial inclusion of the underprivileged and weaker sections of the society and is therefore a tool of distributive justice and equality.

What are the Concerns related to Aadhaar?

  • Misuse of Aadhaar Data:
    • Many private entities in the country insist on an Aadhaar card, and users often share the details.
    • There’s no clarity on how these entities keep these data private and secure.
    • More recently with Covid-19 testing, many would have noticed that most labs insist on Aadhaar card data, including a photocopy.
      • It should be noted that it is not mandatory to share this for getting a Covid-19 test done.
  • Excessive Imposition:
    • In 2018, the Supreme Court ruled that Aadhaar authentication can be made mandatory only for benefits paid from the Consolidated Fund of India and that alternative means of identity verification must always be provided when Aadhaar fails.
      • Children were exempt but aadhaar continues to be routinely demanded from children for basic rights such as anganwadi services or school enrolment.
  • Arbitrary Exclusions:
    • Central and state governments have made routine use of the “ultimatum method” to enforce the linkage of welfare benefits with Aadhaar.
    • In this method, benefits are simply withdrawn or suspended if the recipients fail to comply with the linkage instructions in good time, such as failing to link their job card, ration card or bank account with Aadhaar.
  • Fraud-prone Aadhaar-enabled Payment System (AePS):
    • AePS is a facility that enables someone who has an Aadhaar-linked account to withdraw money from it anywhere in India through biometric authentication with a “business correspondent” – a kind of mini-ATM.
      • There have been rampant abuses of this facility by corrupt business correspondents.

Way Forward

  • Ensure Benefits to Needy not Withdrawn:
    • Benefits should never be withdrawn or suspended without (1) advance disclosure of the names that are likely to be deleted along with reason for proposed deletion, (2) issuing a show cause notice to those concerned and giving them an opportunity (with ample time) to respond or appeal, (3) ex-post disclosure of all cases of deletion, with date and reason.
  • Stronger Safeguards Needed:

UPSC Civil Services Examination, Previous Year Questions (PYQs)

Q. Consider the following statements: (2018)

  1. Aadhaar card can be used as a proof of citizenship or domicile.
  2. Once issued, Aadhaar number cannot be deactivated or omitted by the Issuing Authority.

Which of the statements given above is/are correct?

(a) 1 only
(b) 2 only
(c) Both 1 and 2 
(d) Neither 1 nor 2

Ans: (d)

Exp:

  • The Aadhaar platform helps service providers authenticate identity of residents electronically, in a safe and quick manner, making service delivery more cost effective and efficient. According to the GoI and UIDAI, Aadhaar is not proof of citizenship.
  • However, UIDAI has also published a set of contingencies when the Aadhaar issued by it is liable for rejection. An Aadhaar with mixed or anomalous biometric information or multiple names in a single name (like Urf or Alias) can be deactivated. Aadhaar can also get deactivated upon non-usage of the same for three consecutive years.

Source: TH

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