Some would say Aadhaar has been pushed into the lives of Indians without limits. People aren’t even being able to get new SIM cardswithout Aadhaar, despite the government explicitly stating they should be able to.
A fresh RTI reveals more alarming details: turns out, once you sign up for Aadhaar, you can’t revoke it under any condition, even if you give up citizenship.
First things first: What is the Aadhaar scheme?
The Aadhaar project began in 2009. Under the initiative, each applicant is assigned a 12-digit unique identification number (UID), which is linked to their demographic as well as biometric details (fingerprints and iris scans).
Though it was initially touted as a voluntary ID, the government has gradually made it mandatory to access a number of schemes, like opening of new bank accounts.
Who is it for, who is it not?
According to the Aadhaar Act, “Every resident shall be entitled to obtain an Aadhaar number by submitting demographic and biometric information.”
A ‘resident’ is one who has resided in India for at least 182 days “in the 12 months immediately preceding the date of application for enrolment.”
So your citizenship status won’t matter as long as you have stayed in India for 182 days.
What does the new RTI reveal?
An anonymous Redditor (u/onlinerti) has now posted what his RTIrevealed. The plea notes that Aadhaar is for Indian ‘residents’ and not just ‘citizens,’ so what’s the procedure for revocation of Aadhaar number from the database if someone foregoes Indian citizenship, it asks.
“As per the present policy of UIDAI and the Aadhaar Act, there’s no provision for revocation of Aadhaar,” the reply states.
OthersThere are laws for de-linking Aadhaar from these services though
Technically, there are ways to de-link Aadhaar from services. According to Point 5 of UIDAI’s Compendium of Regulations, “The Aadhaar number holder may, at any time, revoke consent given to a KUA (e-KYC User Agency) for storing his e-KYC data…and the KUA shall delete the e-KYC data.”
This covers all public and private agencies- banks, telcos, PAN, voter ID, LPG connection, passport and more.
But are laws helping us any?
Since no company has explicitly mentioned the process for de-linking Aadhaar, the first step is to contact customer care and enquire about the method.
However, it might not be easy. TBI reports they tried de-linking Aadhaar from SIM, but when they called up customer-care, the executive insisted there was no way to do it.
Meanwhile, telcos continue to send away new customers without Aadhaar.
Only the common people will bear the brunt
In one case, there are no laws at all, and in the other, no one is ensuring they are being followed.
In all practicality, they are the same thing.
The impact is being felt by the masses, who have reported being harassed for Aadhaar by various agencies.
In Feb 2018 .in yet another case of medical apathy, a 25-year-old pregnant woman in Gurugram was forced to deliver a baby girl outside the Civil Hospital near the parking lot without any medical support as she wasn’t carrying her Aadhaar card.
Though she furnished her Aadhaar number, the woman was denied an ultrasound-test before the delivery as she didn’t have an Aadhaar copy.
Aadhaar can be a strong tool, or it can be highly intrusive. Laws can dictate its direction.