The Union Cabinet recommended the annunciation of an ordinance to let individuals voluntarily use Aadhaar for completing eKYC related formalities to abail a mobile connection or open a bank account.
The step has come after the bill which was introduced in Parliament to deal with issues surfaced by a Supreme Court ruling, could not be approved by the Upper House.
While allowing mandatory use of Aadhaar for availing of government services and direct benefit transfer and linking with PAN, the apex court had disallowed use by the private sector. But several individuals are complaining of hardship in the absence of eKYC, a facility that will now be allowed on a voluntary basis.
At the same time, the ordinance also seeks to provide a legal backing to offline verification with the consent of Aadhaar number holder by allowing the use of a QR code-based system. Also, it will allow for masking of the Aadhaar number to address privacy concerns of several citizens, which can be done using a 12-digit number. It also seeks to provide a legal cover for using virtual identity to mask the actual Aadhaar number.
Further, children who have an Aadhaar number will have the option to cancel their unique identification number on attaining the age of 18 years, something that was not provided for under the original law.
Besides, the ordinance will seek to explicitly prevent denial of services in case someone refuses to, or is unable to undergo authentication.
And, to act against violators, strict civil penalties are provided for through the proposed amendments to the law. The amendment bill, which was cleared by Lok Sabha in early January, had proposed a civil penalty of up to Rs 1 crore on entities that violate the provisions of the Aadhaar Act, with an additional fine of up to Rs 10 lakh a day in case of continuous non-compliance.