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The Union Cabinet has promulgated the Aadhaar Ordinance, 2019 after the Aadhaar and Other Laws (Amendment) Bill, 2018 failed to get passed during the Budget Session of Parliament.
The Centre has taken the Ordinance route after the last session of the Lok Sabha ended on February 13. With the imminent dissolution of the 16th Lok Sabha, the Amendment Bill introduced last year will lapse.
As per reports, the Aadhaar Ordinance contains provisions identical to the Amendment Bill.
After the Supreme Court upheld the validity of the Aadhaar Act while striking down some provisions through its judgment passed last year, the Centre has introduced the Bill, which purportedly aims to address concerns regarding the Scheme.
The Ordinance envisions amendments to the Indian Telegraph Act and the Prevention of Money Laundering Act, making it voluntary for citizens to use Aadhaar as a proof of ID. This effectively means that Aadhaar can be used as a voluntary ID proof for obtaining a SIM card and for opening a bank account.
However, the amendments make it clear that “no client or beneficial owner shall be denied services for not having an Aadhaar number”.
Among other changes, the Bill envisions enhanced penalties for entities found to be in breach of the safeguards specified in the Act, gives minors enrolled under the Scheme the option to cancel their Aadhaar number upon turning eighteen, and provides that the Telecom Disputes Appellate Tribunal (TDSAT) will hear appeals against decisions of the Adjudicating Officer under the Act.
Through the introduction of a new Section 33A, the Bill, and now the Ordinance, aims to punish entities failing to comply with provisions of the Act with civil penalties that may amount to a fine of one crore rupees for each contravention.
Read the Aadhaar Ordinance, 2019: