Recent Aadhaar cards are being issued with augmented disclaimers clearly stating that Aadhaar is a proof of identity, not citizenship or date of birth. This significant move seeks to dispel misconceptions and reinforce the limitations of Aadhaar’s applicability. Despite being accepted as a valid form of identification, the unique identification number should not be misconstrued as proof of citizenship or an official document for ascertaining an individual’s date of birth.
Clarifications and Legal Decisions:
1. Election Commission and Aadhaar:
– While the Election Commission of India has recognized Aadhaar as proof of date of birth for voter enrollment, the new disclaimers may introduce uncertainties into such practices.
2. EPFO’s Stance:
– The Employees’ Provident Fund Organisation (EPFO) declared in January that Aadhaar would no longer be accepted as proof of date of birth, aligning with the directives of the Central Provident Fund Commissioner.
3. Ministry’s Clarification:
– In 2018, the Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology emphasized that Aadhaar is not a direct proof of date of birth.
4. Judicial Perspective:
– The Bombay High Court, in 2023, dismissed a petition from the Maharashtra state government seeking Aadhaar details for an accused with conflicting dates of birth on two Aadhaar cards. This decision reinforced the stance that Aadhaar is not proof of date of birth.
UIDAI’s Clarifications on Citizenship:
1. Residency-Based Identification:
– The Unique Identification Authority of India (UIDAI) clarified that Aadhaar is solely a residency-based identification and not a citizenship document. The Aadhaar Act mandates UIDAI to verify a resident’s presence in India for 182 days prior to applying for Aadhaar, distancing the identification process from citizenship status.
2. Supreme Court’s Direction:
– The Supreme Court of India directed UIDAI not to issue Aadhaar to illegal immigrants, highlighting the authority’s role in residency verification rather than citizenship determination.
Misuse and Quality Control:
1. Incidents of Misuse:
– Incidents of obtaining Aadhaar through false pretenses have been reported, prompting actions from UIDAI. For instance, notices were issued in Hyderabad to individuals who allegedly obtained Aadhaar on false grounds, and UIDAI initiated investigations to ascertain the validity of these claims.
2. Quality Control Measures:
– UIDAI has implemented routine quality improvement processes to ensure the integrity of the Aadhaar system, especially in light of reported instances of obtaining Aadhaar through fraudulent means.
The enhanced disclaimers on new Aadhaar cards serve as a crucial reminder of the identification document’s intended purpose and limitations. As the narrative around Aadhaar evolves, it is imperative for both the public and various organizations to align their practices with the legal framework and guidelines provided by UIDAI. The continuous efforts to clarify Aadhaar’s role underscore the importance of accurate representation and usage of identity documents in India.