Aadhaar, a 12-digit unique identity number that is based on the biometric and demographic data of people, is the world's largest biometric ID system and it can be obtained voluntarily by residents of India. A person willing to enroll has to provide minimal demographic and biometric information during the enrolment process which is totally free of cost.
It 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 and it does not confer any right of citizenship or domicile in India. It is a strategic policy tool for social and financial inclusion, public sector delivery reforms, managing fiscal budgets, increase convenience and promote hassle-free people-centric governance.
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. Its inherent features of Uniqueness, Authentication, Financial Address and e-KYC, enables the Government of India to directly reach residents of the country in delivery of various subsidies, benefits and services by using the resident's Aadhaar number only.
PASSING OF AADHAAR BILL:
A money bill was introduced in Parliament on March 3, 2016 to give legislative backing to Aadhaar, and on March 11, 2016, the Aadhaar (Targeted Delivery of Financial and other Subsidies, benefits and services) Act, 2016, was passed in the Lok Sabha.
Starting with the issuing of the first UID in September 2010, the Unique Identification Authority of India (UIDAI) has been aiming to issue an Aadhaar number to all the residents ensuring that it is robust enough to eliminate duplicate and fake identities, and that the number can be verified and authenticated in an easy and cost-effective way online anywhere, anytime.
The data is collected by the UIDAI, a statutory authority established in January 2009 by the government of India, under the jurisdiction of the Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology, following the provisions of the Aadhaar (Targeted Delivery of Financial and other Subsidies, benefits and services) Act, 2016.
The UIDAI is mandated to assign a 12-digit unique identification (UID) number (termed Aadhaar) to all the residents of India. The number is linked to the resident's basic demographic and biometric information such as a photograph, ten fingerprints and two iris scans, which are stored in a centralized database.
AADHAAR IN COURT:
Not all agree with Aadhaar, with fear of losing their privacy and their personal information being leaked being the topmost concerns. The matter landed in the Supreme Court, which on September 23, 2013 issued an interim order saying that "no person should suffer for not getting Aadhaar". It also added that the government cannot deny a service to a resident who does not possess Aadhaar, as it is voluntary and not mandatory.
In a September 2018 ruling, the apex court stipulated that the Aadhaar card is not mandatory for opening bank accounts, getting a mobile number, or being admitted to a school.
But despite the Constitutional validity of Aadhaar being challenged in court, the government has been pushing citizens to link it with a number of services, which include mobile sim cards, bank accounts, the Employees' Provident Fund Organisation, and a large number of welfare schemes. It is also mandatory to mention the number while filing income tax return (ITR) and to also link the Permanent Account Number (PAN) with the Aadhaar number.