• The idea of having a Unique Identity Number (UID) for every citizen of India was conceived by Shri Nandan Nilekani during the UPA Government. Unquestionably.
• The credit goes to him for conceiving, initiating and implementing the idea. Aadhaar, however, was non-statutory.
• There was no law governing it. This triggered a serious legal challenge.
The legal hurdle
• The UPA legislation was inadequate.
• It provided for the methodology by which the UID would be issued. It did not contain adequate safeguards on privacy.
• It did not mention for which purpose the UID would be used.
• The NDA Government re-examined the issue and the legislation was completely changed.
• The pith and substance of the new law was that Government spends a large part of the public resources in subsidising the poor.
• This subsidy became an indefinite amount which is given to an unidentified section of the people.
• There are many claimants who don’t exist. Several others are not entitled to it.
• There are several cases of duplication and thus the unique identity based on biometrics would eliminate these aberrations and relief would travel only to the intended.
• This was the thrust of the new law. After the new law was passed in Parliament it was challenged before the Supreme Court.
• The Supreme Court upheld the whole concept of unique identity and rejected the challenge that it violated the Right to Privacy.
• It held that Aadhaar meets the concept of constitutional trust, limited government and good governance and empowers marginalised section of society.
• It also introduced several safeguards to ensure that it is not misused.
• The Judgement of the Supreme Court added balance to the concept of AADHAAR.
• The Aadhaar (Targeted Delivery of Financial and other Subsidies, Benefits and Services) Bill, 2016, was passed by the Parliament on 16th March, 2016. It was notified on 26th March, 2016.
• Several other Sections of the Act which had initially not been notified, were notified on 12th September, 2016.
• In the last 28 months over 122 crore Aadhaar numbers have been issued. 99% of the adult population of India above the age of 18 stands covered.
• The Income Tax Department has already linked 21 crore PAN card holders with their Aadhaar numbers.
• 2579 crore authentications have been undertaken till date.
• Everyday 2.7 crore authentications are done.
• UIDAI has the capacity of 10 crore transactions to be authenticated per day.
• The Government estimates that Rs. 90,000 crore have been saved in the last few years till March, 2018 by the use of the Aadhaar.
• Several duplicate beneficiaries, non-existent beneficiaries and fake beneficiaries have been eliminated.
• The Digital Dividend Report prepared by the World Bank estimates that India can save Rs. 77,000 crore every year by the use of Aadhaar. The savings through Aadhaar can fund three schemes of the size of Ayushman Bharat.
Mains Paper 2: Governance | Issues relating to development & management of Social Sector/Services relating to Health, Education, Human Resources
Prelims level: Aadhaar