6 Sep 2010

National Identification law in India in its making

Updated readers of this blog would be aware of the National Identification Programme underway under the leadership of Mr. Nandan Nilekani to ensure the a digitally-verifiable identity of each citizen of this country. Working in tandem, the Government of India has released the draft National Identification Authority of India Bill, 2010 which seeks to carry further this objective in the formal way. 

This Bill to provide "for the establishment of the National Identification Authority of India for the purpose of issuing identification numbers to individuals" while also to provide for the "manner of authentication of such individuals to facilitate access to benefits and services to such individuals to which they are entitled", the 2010 Bill while providing for the institutionalization of the National Identification Authority of India, it also informs us of the concept of "Aadhaar number" sought to be introduced which would be provided to all residents of India (and not just citizens) upon provision of "demographic information and biometric information" to the Authority and this number shall be "be accepted as proof of identity" of the holder. 

The Bill prohibits taking note of "race, religion, caste, tribe, ethnicity, language, income or health" for provision of the Aadhaar Number while also requiring the Authority to take special measures while extending these numbers to "women, children, senior citizens, persons with disability, migrant unskilled and unorganised workers, nomadic tribes or to such other persons who do not have any permanent dwelling house". While the information in respect of such Aadhaar numbers of another can be verified from the Authority, the Bill obliges the Authority to "maintain details of every request for authentication of the identity of every aadhaar number holder and the response provided thereon by it".

Upon the passing of the Bill and with the establishment of the Authority under the Bill, "all the assets and liabilities of the Unique Identification Authority of India, established vide notification of the Government of India in the Planning Commission number A-43011/02/2009-Admin.I, dated the 28th January, 2009, shall stand transferred to, and vested in, the Authority". Lets hope that this dream becomes a reality soon. 

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