What is the new Aadhaar Bill?

Aadhaar-BillA new and revised Aadhaar (Targeted Delivery of Financial and Other Subsidies, Benefits and Services) Bill, 2016 was introduced in Lok Sabha on 3 March 2016, in a move that will give much needed statutory backing to the world’s largest biometric identification program.

With this, the government withdrew from Rajya Sabha the earlier National Identification Authority of India Bill, 2010 that was introduced by the UPA government.

What’s New about this Bill?

Supreme Court had earlier passed a ruling stating that Aadhaar must not be made mandatory and restricted its use to deliver benefits and subsidies for only five government schemes, which included LPG and PDS.

The new Bill addresses major concerns regarding security of data, unauthorised use or misuse of personal information and absence of legislation to punish those indulging in any associated malpractice.

The new Aadhaar Bill ensures implementation of data security and is backed by laws that will impose a fine and/or jail term for those misusing or publishing any personal information of individuals, including their Aadhaar number, in any public medium.

The new Bill makes the use of Aadhaar mandatory for availing of government subsidies and benefits received from the Consolidated Fund of India. Through Aadhaar, the government will ensure that only targeted individuals directly receive funds or services, thereby plugging leaks in the system that have been plaguing India for years.

The government has, however, clarified that Aadhaar number shall not serve to confirm domicile or citizenship of any individual.

Politics Still in Play

There has been politics at play over Aadhaar despite almost all parties agreeing on the need for it. The previous regime faced opposition’s resistance in Parliament over the National Identification Authority of India Bill, 2010, introduced by the UPA government, which now stands withdrawn.

Not to let the NDA government off easily, Congress along with TMC, Left and BJD, have been opposing FM Arun Jaitley’s attempt to introduce the new Aadhaar Bill as a money bill in the lower house.

Leader of the Opposition in Lok Sabha and Congress leader Mallikarjun Kharge has already written to Venkaiah Naidu, Parliamentary Affairs Minister, stating that the Bill must not be presented as a money bill and must be introduced in the Rajya Sabha for discussion.

The coming days will reveal how the government tackles the opposition on this and whether the new Aadhaar Bill will see a smooth passage.

Government Serious about Aadhaar

Narendra Modi is committed to ensuring that all social sector schemes of the government is launched and implemented as per time and guidelines laid down. For its successful implementation, Aadhaar is critical and the NDA government has made the right move towards ensuring that it receives the necessary statutory backing.

Rs.13,663 crore has already been allocated for the scheme up to FY’16-17, of which Rs 6,844 crore has already been spent till 31 December 2015 on establishing Aadhaar Sampark Kendras, technology-related infrastructure and enrollment, and all associated logistics. This is besides the Rs. 499 crore spent on other establishment-related expenditure.

Total enrollment has exceeded 98 crore individuals and out of a total 16.5 crore DBTL beneficiaries, 11.19 crore accounts have Aadhaar numbers seeded. Aadhaar, is all set to finally becoming a major enabler for receiving social security benefits from the government.