President gives assent to ordinance allowing voluntary use of Aadhaar

Indian President Ram Nath Kovind has given his assent to an ordinance that allows voluntary use of Aadhaar as ID proof for obtaining mobile SIM cards and opening bank accounts.

The ordinance was necessitated because the Rajya Sabha could not approve the Aadhaar and other laws (Amendment Bill) 2018, as it was adjourned sine die on 13 February 2019. As a result, many significant bills such as the Aadhaar Bill, Triple Talaq Bill, and Citizenship Amendment Bill had lapsed. The Lok Sabha had passed the Aadhaar Amendment Bill on 04 January 2019.

Key Highlights:

1. The amendments provide for stiff penalties for violation of norms set for the use of Aadhaar and violation of privacy.
2. The amendments also make it clear that anyone not offering Aadhaar cannot be denied any service, be it opening of a bank account or obtaining a mobile phone SIM card.
3. The Union Cabinet had approved the promulgation of an ordinance to give effect to changes proposed in Aadhaar and two others legislations last week.
4. The ordinance gives effect to the changes in the Aadhaar Act such as giving a minor an option to exit from the biometric ID programme on attaining 18 years of age.
5. The amendments will enable UIDAI to have a more robust mechanism to serve the public interest and restrain the misuse of Aadhaar.

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