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Why Deactivation?

Legal Points Regarding Aadhaar

I Mallikarjuna Sharma

Per Aadhaar Act, "(v) “resident” means an individual who has resided in India for a period or periods amounting in all to one hundred and eighty-two days or more in the twelve months immediately preceding the date of application for enrolment;"

Every resident is entitled to receive Aadhaar card and it is not mandatory for him to be a citizen of India.

However, if a person who has enrolled and has been given Aadhaar card on the basis of his statement and whatever verification by authorities at that time, but he does not actually fulfil the requirements/conditions of residence as stipulated in the Act, would the government/authority take no action against that person?

The Unique Identity Authority of India (UIDAI), is a statutory authority established under the provisions of the Aadhaar (Targeted Delivery of Financial and Other Subsidies, Benefits and Services) Act, 2016 (“Aadhaar Act 2016”) on 12 July 2016 by the Government of India, under the Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology (MeitY). The Aadhaar Act 2016 has been amended by the Aadhaar and Other Laws (Amendment) Act, 2019 (14 of 2019) w.e.f. 25.07.2019.

UIDAI was created to issue Unique Identification numbers (UID), named as "Aadhaar", to all residents of India. The UID had to be (a) robust enough to eliminate duplicate and fake identities, and (b) verifiable and authenticable in an easy, cost-effective way. As on 29th September 2023, the Authority has generated 138.08 croreAadhaar numbers to the residents of India.

Under the Aadhaar Act 2016, UIDAI is responsible for Aadhaar enrolment and authentication, including operation and management of all stages of Aadhaar life cycle, developing the policy, procedure, and system for issuing Aadhaar numbers to individuals and perform authentication and the security of identity information and authentication records of individuals.

 "10. Notification/Acknowledgement of authentication or off line verification to Aadhaar number holder.— (1) The Aadhaar number holder shall be notified by the requesting entity about any authentication, through email and/or SMS and/or other digital means and/or paper based acknowledgement about success or failure of authentication on each request. Such notification/acknowledgement shall include requesting entity’s name, date and time of authentication, authorised response code, last 4 digits of Aadhaar number and purpose of authentication, as the case may be. (2) The Aadhaar number holder shall be notified by the OVSE about any off line verification, through email and/or SMS and/or other digital means and/or paper based acknowledgement about success or failure of off line verification on each request. (3) In case of authentication failure the requesting entity should, in clear and precise language, inform the resident about the reasons of authentication failure such as Suspended/Cancelled Aadhaar or Biometric/Aadhaar Locking."

UIDAI framed its principal regulations which have been published in the Gazette of India, Extraordinary, Part III, Section 4, dated the 9th November, 2021, vide Notification F. No. K-11020/ 240/ 2021/ Auth/UIDAI (No. 2 of 2021), dated the 8 th November 2021, and were subsequently amended vide Notifications— (i) F. No. K-11020/240/2021/Auth/UIDAI (No. 01 of 2022), dated the 4th February, 2022; (ii) F. No. HQ-13011/2/2021-AUTH-II (No. 01 of 2023), dated the 24th February, 2023 (published on the 27th February, 2023); and (iii) F. No. HQ-13073/1/2020-AUTH.II(E), dated the 29th September, 2023 (published on the 3rd October, 2023). In the principal regulations, Regulation 10 says: ""10. Notification/Acknowledgement of authentication or offline verification to Aadhaar number holder.— (1) The Aadhaar number holder shall be notified by the requesting entity about any authentication, through email and/or SMS and/or other digital means and/or paper based acknowledgement about success or failure of authentication on each request. Such notification/acknowledgement shall include requesting entity’s name, date and time of authentication, auth response code, last 4 digits of Aadhaar number and purpose of authentication, as the case may be. (2) The Aadhaar number holder shall be notified by the OVSE about any offline verification, through email and/or SMS and/or other digital means and/or paper based acknowledgement about success or failure of offline verification on each request. (3) In case of authentication failure the requesting entity should, in clear and precise language, inform the resident about the reasons of authentication failure such as Suspended/Cancelled Aadhaar or Biometric/Aadhaar Locking." This has been explained in a latest amendment to the Aadhaar Regulations dated 31 January 2024 in the following manner: "4. In the principal regulations, in regulation 10,— (a) in sub-regulation (3), for the words “failure such as Suspended/Cancelled Aadhaar or Biometric/Aadhaar Locking”, the words ‘failure, such as “Aadhaar cancelled”, “Aadhaar deactivated”, “Aadhaar locked”, “Aadhaar omitted”, “Aadhaar suspended” and “Biometrics locked”’ shall be substituted; (b) after sub-regulation (3), the following sub-regulation shall be inserted, namely:— “(4) In sub-regulation (3), the expression— (i) “Aadhaar cancelled” or “Aadhaar omitted”, in relation to an Aadhaar number, shall mean that such Aadhaar number has been omitted; (ii) “Aadhaar deactivated” or “Aadhaar suspended”, in relation to an Aadhaar number, shall mean that such Aadhaar number has been deactivated; (iii) “Aadhaar locked”, in relation to an Aadhaar number, shall mean that such Aadhaar number has been locked as referred to in regulation 11A; and (iv) “Biometrics locked”, in relation to an Aadhaar number, shall mean that the biometric records related to such Aadhaar number have been locked as referred to in regulation 11.”.

Certainly those who have been informed of such cancellation or deactivation etc. will have opportunity to protest and establish their true eligibility subsequently, and also the authentication process enables them to change any other information/details mentioned at the first instance.

It is not clear whether such deactivations or cancellations done so far are excessive and so numerous to warrant a suspicion that specific discrimination is being exercised against any community/section of the citizens or such acts are purely arbitrary and so hit by Article 14 of the Constitution". 

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Vol 56, No. 45, May 5 - 11, 2024