Unique Identification Authority of India Chief Executive Officer Ajay Bhushan Pandey said the government will seek legal counsel on whether it can delete the biometric data of minors who choose to exit the Aadhaar system once they turn 18, reported The Hindu on Thursday.
The Supreme Court in September 2018 upheld most of the provisions of the Aadhaar Act by a 4:1 majority. The court said mobile phones and bank accounts do no need to be linked with Aadhaar though it has to be linked with PAN cards for filing income tax-returns.
The Union Cabinet in December approved amendments to the Aadhaar Act, including a provision that allowed a child enrolled for the Aadhaar by their parents to withdraw their Aadhaar details when they turn 18. This entails that the Unique Authority of India to remove all the details of such people from its servers, including biometrics.
The provision to exit Aadhaar, however, will not benefit those who want to file Income Tax Returns, as the court held that Aadhaar has to be linked with PAN cards.
“A child when he or she turns the age of 18 can exercise an option to opt out, and in that particular case, their Aadhaar number will be cancelled,” Pandey told The Hindu during an interview. “Regarding the biometric data, that is something we will have to take a legal opinion because if you delete the biometric data, then suppose that person comes again and does enrolment, then how will that operate. Maybe that data could be kept somewhere separate, but how that will function, we will have to take legal opinions,” Pandey added.
In January, the Lok Sabha passed the Aadhaar and Other Laws (Amendment) Bill, which sought to amend relevant laws to comply with the Supreme Court judgement passed in September. The Union Cabinet had approved the amendments to provisions under the Aadhaar Act, the Telegraph Act and the Prevention of Money Laundering Act. The bill, however, lapsed as it was not passed in the Rajya Sabha before the House was adjourned sine die. It will have to be reintroduced when the next Lok Sabha is in session.