UIDAI CEO clarifies several Aadhaar-related queries


16 Mar 2018

Despite SC-order, Aadhaar still mandatory for certain services: UIDAI CEO

The SC's interim order on the Aadhaar deadline might not mean relief for everyone. In an interview with HT, UIDAI CEO Ajay Bhushan Pandey clarified several issues.

New subscribers of bank accounts, Tatkal passports, SIMs and mutual funds will still have to produce Aadhaar while applying, he said.

There are other conditions to the SC's indefinite extension of the March 31 Aadhaar-linking deadline.


Why was the deadline extended?

Why was the deadline extended?

The final hearing in the years-old case against Aadhaar began this year. The deadline was extended indefinitely on March 13 after petitioners demanded it, since verdict is unlikely to be out soon.

However, Bhushan clarified that it won't apply to existing subscribers of welfare programs, benefits and subsidies under Section 7 of the Aadhaar Act.

For them, the deadline of March 31 stands.


'States no longer have Aadhaar data of citizens'

Bhushan reiterated all data in the State Resident Data Hubs had been destroyed.

Prior to the Aadhaar Act (2016), states used to collect and retain citizens' data, which they used for various schemes like PDS and NREGA.

States would also get demographic information about citizens from other agencies where individuals enrolled, like banks.

But now, states no longer hold biometric data, only demographics.

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'But some states might have their own biometric-based system'

However, some states might have their own biometric system. Bhushan recalled, "In earlier days, Gujarat said we don't want to use Aadhaar-based PDS because we have been working on the biometric base earlier than us." Andhra Pradesh had tried something similar with iris, he said.


'Aadhaar's advanced security is constantly updated'

'Aadhaar's advanced security is constantly updated'

Bhushan emphasized on Aadhaar's security, saying someone knowing your Aadhaar number can't do anything with it without your biometrics.

Registered devices encrypt fingerprints with key and time stamp, which are impossible to duplicate, he said.

UIDAI also uses 2048bit encryption, eight times higher than the "normal" of 256 bits.

In the times of rapidly advancing technology, security is a continuous process, he said.


'Focus is on creating a trustworthy ecosystem'

Bhusan also focused on Aadhaar's inclusivity, saying all agencies had been asked to ensure people aren't denied benefits under the Aadhaar Act.

"If a bank branch or local ration shop doesn't accept it, then people should complain."

After complaints of corrupt front-end officials at enrolment agencies, UIDAI is now working on "changing the environment at the ground level and creating a trustworthy ecosystem."

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