New “advisory on Aadhaar as date of birth proof soon

To add to the uncertainty behind the robustness and reliability of data collection, both Govt. and private agencies banking on Aadhaar to verify individuals’ credentials like date of birth or address are now to be told to rely on ‘risk-based assessment’ or seek other proof

The weekend was rife with rumours of how hundreds of thousands of Aadhaar cards are being “de-activated. This “news without any basis from the UIDAI authorities appeared to be based on “letters” received by some persons.

Now, The Hindu reports that to avoid inconvenience to the public and government schemes’ beneficiaries and quell a sense of anxiety about a recent directive to cease the usage of Aadhaar as a ‘date of birth’ proof, the Unique Identification Authority of India (UIDAI) is likely to issue a clarification soon that those relying on the ID proof for age may do so after undertaking a ‘risk-based assessment’.

The controversy around reliance on Aadhaar, a biometric-linked identification proof, has become ubiquitous in recent years, with linkages to taxpayers’ PAN cards, provident fund and bank accounts, among others. The Unique ID (UID), as it is also known, is a the document, the “critical document” for effecting direct benefit transfers to millions of government welfare scheme beneficiaries, using what the Centre calls ‘the JAM (Jan Dhan bank accounts, Aadhaar, and Mobile Phones) trinity’. It was never meant to be the base data for citizenship.

High Court judgments – Jurisprudence 

The UIDAI, in a December 2023 missive, has asked all agencies that use Aadhaar to authenticate identities to delete it from the list of acceptable documents for verifying a person’s date of birth. The authority said this was an iteration of its stated position and had been underlined by different High Court judgments. Now, Aadhaar ID cards come with a prominent disclaimer that they are “a proof of identity, not of citizenship or date of birth.”

Responding to a recent query on the issue, Finance Secretary T.V. Somanathan said: “I am certain that Central ministries will work out an appropriate arrangement to see that the public and beneficiaries of various schemes are not adversely affected.”

A senior Electronics and IT Ministry official indicated to The Hindu that the UIDAI would not withdraw the directive but would soon issue an advisory for agencies that rely on Aadhaar authentication for welfare benefits and KYC (Know Your Customer) compliance purposes.

“The UIDAI circular in question reflects and reiterates our stance that an Aadhaar number can be used to establish the identity of an individual subject to authentication and is not per se a proof of date of birth. However, the UIDAI is likely to issue a clarification, putting the onus on user agencies to accept the date entered into Aadhaar records or verify it further, with the emphasis being on risk-based assessment,” the official said, requesting anonymity owing to the sensitivity of the issue.

“The birthdate and even the address mentioned in Aadhaar are only a reasonable assessment of the age and location of an individual, based on documents provided at the time of enrolment. But it cannot be construed as fool proof evidence for either of those details… it is up to the concerned entity to decide whether to accept them or seek more documents after assessing the risks involved in their use cases for Aadhaar authentication,” the official explained.

As has been known, the date of birth can be verified by using documents such as birth certificates or school-leaving certificates, wherever knowing the precise age is critical, be it opening a bank account for a minor or a senior citizen, or transferring pension benefits, he pointed out. Even a passport or driving licence can be used to confirm a person’s age.

Following this UIDAI communiqué, some entities like the Employees’ Provident Fund Organisation (EPFO) have already scrapped Aadhaar’s use as birthdate proof, while other departments and user agencies are still evaluating the impact. Central Board of Direct Taxes chairman Nitin Gupta said Aadhaar is linked to about 59 crore PAN cards and issues arising from the UIDAI diktat would be assessed.

Revenue Secretary Sanjay Malhotra noted to The Hindu that Aadhaar is being used for registrations under the Goods and Services Tax (GST) regime as well, but the date of birth is not vital in those cases. “For date of birth, generally in government, it is the birth certificate or the class X passing certificate that works,” he said.


Aadhaar-linked wages for MNREGS workers mandatory from Jan 1, 2024

ECI undertaking to SC: Aadhaar number not mandatory to enrol as voter

‘Don’t deny govt welfare schemes if people don’t have Aadhaar cards or mobile nos,’ Orissa HC




Related Articles