The Supreme Court on Monday said that the government cannot be stopped from making Aadhaar mandatory for "non-benefit" purposes such as filing of Income Tax returns or opening of bank accounts.
The BJP, which had attacked the Aadhaar when it was in Opposition, has now its government working on a war-footing to make Aadhaar, or the unique identification number, mandatory for a host of services.
WHAT IS AADHAAR?
Aadhaar is a 12-digit unique identity number issued to citizens based on biometric and demographic data. It is not a proof of citizenship.
The Unique Identification Authority of India (UADAI), which is the nodal authority that issues Aadhaar cards, lists the objectives of the unique identification number as eliminating duplicate and fake identities; verifying and authenticating identity in an easy and cost-effective way.
CAN AADHAAR REPLACE PAN CARD?
During the ongoing Budget session, Finance Minister Arun Jaitley said that Aadhaar can soon become the only card required for identification, replacing Voter ID card and PAN. "A stage may come when unique identity card (Aadhaar) may become the sole card. There are many countries where such a situation exists. There is a social security number in America and in India it (Aadhaar) could be the counterpart," the finance minister said.
The Narendra Modi government has made Aadhaar number mandatory for filing I-T returns as well as for applying for PAN (Permanent Account Number) card. Existing PAN card holders too will have to disclose their Aadhaar number within a stipulated time or their card will be invalid.
These amendments, which were proposed in the Finance Bill, were passed in Lok Sabha by voice vote. Since it is a money bill, government does not need Rajya Sabha's approval for the same. The government argued that linking of Aadhaar to Income Tax filing will check tax evasion by those who have multiple PAN cards.
CAN YOU DO WITHOUT AADHAAR?
Besides Income Tax filing and PAN cards, Aadhaar will soon be mandatory for a range of services--from getting a new mobile number to booking a Railway ticket.
Now Aadhaar number is mandatory to apply for a driving license. According to reports, the new rule will come into effect from October. The move is expected to curb issuance of multiple licenses. The existing system involves manual cross-checking of an applicant's details, and Aadhaar's biometrics are expected to make the verification process easier.
The Department of Telecommunications (DoT) has written to telecom operators regarding re-verifying phone numbers using Aadhaar number. In the next few months, all mobile phone numbers, be it pre-paid or post-paid, will be linked to Aadhaar. Any number not linked to Aadhaar will be illegal after February 6, 2018.
The University Grants Commission (UGC) in a March 21 has notice asked universities to include Aadhaar number on the degree issued to a student. According to UGC, this will help check the menace of fake degrees.
#Railway Ticket Booking
Aadhaar may soon become mandatory for online train ticket booking. The Railways is planning to introduce Aadhaar-based ticketing system to prevent touts from booking tickets in bulk. Aadhaar verification is mandatory for senior citizens to avail of concessions in train tickets.
Employees Provident Fund Organistion (EPFO) has made it mandatory for its members to provide Aadhaar number to remain a beneficiary of the pension scheme. The Labour Ministry had issued a notification to this regard in January.