Matter of choice: The Law Ministry felt that the option to withdraw must be made available to all citizens.
Government is finalising a proposal to amend the Act, following Supreme Court order upholding it but with conditions.
The government is in the last stages of finalising a proposal to amend the Aadhaar Act to give all citizens an option to withdraw their Aadhaar number, including biometrics and the data.
This follows the Supreme Court judgment in September that upheld the validity of Aadhaar, however, with certain riders.
A Constitution Bench had struck down Section 57 of the Act that allows private entities to use the unique number for verification. The Bench also declared that seeking to link it with bank accounts and SIM cards was unconstitutional.
“The initial proposal was prepared by the Unique Identification Authority of India (UIDAI). It submitted that once a child turns 18, he/she will be given six months to decide if he/she wants to withdraw,” a senior official said.
This proposal was sent to the Law Ministry to be vetted. “The Ministry further recommended that the option to withdraw be made available to all citizens, and not be limited to a particular group,” the official added.
However, the proposal, which will now be sent to the Cabinet, is likely to benefit only those who do not have a PAN card or do not require one, as the court had upheld the linkage of PAN with Aadhaar.
Over 37.50 crore PANs have been issued till March 12, 2018. Of these, the number of PANs issued to individuals stood at more than 36.54 crore, of which about 16.84 crore PANs have been linked with Aadhaar.
In line with the court order, the proposal seeks to appoint an adjudicating officer to decide whether a person’s Aadhaar-related data need to be disclosed in the interest of national security.
The court had also struck down Section 33(2), which allowed disclosure of Aadhaar information for national security reasons on the orders of an officer not below Joint Secretary. It had said an officer above Joint Secretary should consult a judicial officer and together take a call.