Aadhar will be now voluntary for phone, banking verifications. The Union Cabinet gave its approval to amend two existing Aadhaar laws giving preference to the people to voluntarily share the biometric identity card while obtaining new mobile phone connections and the opening of bank accounts.
The Cabinet headed by Prime Minister Narendra Modi approved amendments which will be carried out under the Telegraph Act and the Prevention of Money Laundering Act (PMLA). “The authentication through Aadhaar is permissible for mobile phone SIM cards and banking purposes. But this shall not be the only option. Apart from Aadhaar KYC, passport and any other document the government may notify can also be used,” The government’s move comes after the Supreme Court in September imposed restrictions on the use of Aadhaar by private companies.
Court had struck down Section 57 of the Aadhaar Act that made seeding of the biometric ID with SIMs and bank accounts mandatory, saying it had no legal backing. To overcome this lacuna, the Telegraph Act is being amended to provide legal backing for the issuance of mobile SIMs through Aadhaar. Similarly, the amendment to the Prevention of Money Laundering Act (PMLA) will give individuals option to link their bank accounts to Aadhaar in the KYC option.
The apex court in a landmark judgment had held constitutional validity of Aadhaar for the distribution of state-sponsored welfare subsidies but ruled that it cannot be made mandatory for opening bank accounts or providing mobile-phone connections. The ruling followed petitions by activists and lawyers citing privacy concerns.