The government made a strong pitch for the use of Aadhaar number to register deaths to prevent “identity fraud”, but stopped short of making it mandatory even as fears of privacy being compromised are yet to be put to rest.
The Registrar General India (RGI), in a notification, stated that the Aadhaar-linked death registration will start from October 1.
The government, however, clarified that it was not mandatory. If an applicant is not aware of the Aadhaar number or Enrolment ID Number (EID) of the deceased, he or she will be required to provide a certificate that the deceased person did not possess Aadhaar number to the best of their knowledge.
Aadhaar is a unique 12-digit biometric number that is used for accurate identification of all individuals in the country.
Benefits meant for the poor, under government’s welfare schemes, have been misappropriated — in the name of the dead — raising the need for accurate identification of deceased.
In a statement, the home ministry said the use of Aadhaar number for death certificate will help establish the identity of the deceased and ensure accuracy of details provided by relatives or dependents of the deceased and obviate the need for producing multiple documents.
“Any false declaration given by the applicant in this regard will be treated as an offence as per the provisions of the Aadhaar Act, 2016 and also Registration of Birth and Death Act, 1969,” the statement said, adding that the Aadhaar number of the applicant and his/her spouse and parents shall also be collected.
The RGI, which functions under the home ministry, has directed departments in states and Union territories, responsible for registration of births and deaths, to ensure compliance by concerned authorities, and sought its confirmation by September 1.
The provision will be implemented in all states except Jammu and Kashmir, Assam and Meghalaya, where dates will be notified separately.
The move comes at a time when the Supreme Court is hearing a petition over threat to privacy arising from the use of the digital identification numbers. Hacking or leaking of Aadhaar data has also been reported several times recently.
Law and IT minister Ravi Shankar Prasad said he expects a “robust” data protection law to come up following recommendations from a panel formed for the purpose on August 1.
The committee, headed by former SC judge BN Srikrishna, will study and identify key data protection issues and recommend methods to address them.
The government has also made it mandatory to link Aadhaar number with Permanent Account Number for filing income tax returns, and for any bank transaction over Rs 50,000. The number is also mandatory for availing some welfare schemes.