Stringent action may be taken against banks and telecom companies insisting on Aadhaar as the sole identity and address proof. Entities found violating the provisions of the Aadhaar Act may be liable to penalties of up to Rs. 1 crore.
According to various news reports, the government has proposed stiff penalties on entities failing to comply with the provisions of the Aadhaar Act. Firms could be penalized up to Rs. 1 crore, with an added fine of up to Rs.10 lakhs for each day of continuous non-compliance, news reports have suggested. Presently, there are no provisions in the Act empowering the Aadhaar-issuing body, Unique Identification Authority of India (UIDAI), to take action against errant bodies in the Aadhaar ecosystem. The ecosystem constitutes enrolling agencies, requesting entities, registrar and offline verification seeking entities, among others. The jail term in case of unauthorised access to Central Identities Data Repository (centralised database where personal information of individuals is stored) and data tampering is proposed to be raised from the current 3 years to 10 years.
The government wants to arm the UIDAI with more regulatory powers, similar to that of other regulatory bodies, sources have said. Considering that more than 122 crore Aadhaar numbers have been issued, the agency has not been given powers to take enforcement actions against errant bodies. The suggested amendments also make provisions for allowing the use of Virtual IDs, QR (Quick response) code, and offline verification modes. Another proposed amendment is the provision to opt out of Aadhaar database once a person has reached 18 years of age. This provision states that an individual should be allowed to place a request to cancel his or her 12-digit Aadhaar number within a period of six months of attaining the age of 18 years. Additionally, the consent of a parent or guardian would be required for enrolling a child. However, no child shall be refused any benefit, subsidy or services for not holding an Aadhar card.
In September 2018, the Supreme Court upheld the constitutional validity of Aadhaar, but imposed certain restrictions on its use. The court ruled that while Aadhaar would remain mandatory for filing of income tax returns, it wouldn't be compulsory to link Aadhaar number with bank accounts. Additionally, telecom service providers cannot ask customers to link Aadhaar for mobile connections. The court also held that Aadhaar would not be mandatory in case of school admissions. Stating that there was nothing in the Aadhaar Act that violated a person’s right to privacy, the court had cleared the use of Aadhaar number for government welfare benefits. Following this, the Cabinet gave its nod to amending the Aadhaar Act, the Prevention of Money Laundering Act and the Indian Telegraph Act.