Aadhar judgement has not gone far enough: NITI Ayog CEO

Amitabh Kant, the CEO of NITI Ayog, has stated that the recent judgement on Aadhar where the Supreme Court affirmed the constitutionality and importance of Aadhar, has validated the government’s efforts at promoting good governance and ensuring that the benefits reach the people in need. In an article written for the Economic Times, the NITI Ayog CEO has asserted that the recent Supreme Court judgement is also a validation of the magnitude of the initiative which has greatly reduced leakages and corruption in disbursements across the country.

Amitabh Kant wrote that by using AADHAR, the government of India has saved over Rs 90,000 crores every year by plugging leakages in over 500 social welfare schemes.

However, Kant is critical of the SC’s decision to limit the scope of the usage of Aadhar by the private sector, he says that the SC judgement has not gone far enough. Writing further that the SC has done a great disservice to the ‘ease of doing business’, he added that the usage of Aadhar for various services like opening of a bank account, taking loan and insurance policies or even Aadhar based payment systems have greatly reduced red tape, paper-work and time.

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He writes that by scrapping the section 57 of the Aadhar Act, which allowed private companies to use the Aadhar-based authentication process, the SC judgement created a hindrance in ease of doing business and maximising technology enhanced economic efficiency. “Yes, a critical aspect of the Aadhaar is as a social welfare mobilizer, and also as a necessary form of identity for one and all. Having said that, the Aadhaar has an enormous role to play in achieving a cashless, transparent, efficient and inclusive economy and ecosystem. e-KYC and Aadhaar enabled validation has been a game changer for many sectors and boosted capability and capacity. To roll that back as per the judgment would cause irreparable paralysis to efficiency and capacity and adversely impact the productivity in the Indian economy,” Kant has written in his article.

Kant has further written that some of the major benefits of Aadhar that cut across socio-economic lines were the ease of meeting address proof requirements and easy authentication of identity irrespective of the geographical location of individuals.

Amitabh Kant asserts that the SC should have let the section 57 stand and instead should have directed the government to create a strong legal framework that set out terms of use and protect the privacy of individuals who have given their Aadhar details for authentication. He furthered that the economic outcomes of a judgement must have also been considered given the sheer number of people who have benefitted from technological efficiency brought by Aadhar enabling.

Amitabh Kant also showed concern that if due to the uncertainty created over the use of Aadhar authentication by private entities, the private entities, going forward, become wary of using biometrics and Aadhar based authentication, it would undo years of efforts spent to enhance speed, accountability and efficiency.

Praising the judgement for reposing complete faith in the Aadhar in the matters of social benefits and transparency, he has expressed concerns about its economic impacts due to the scrapping of section 57. He concludes by saying that going forward, a law that ensures privacy while removing barriers to unrelated and necessary activities will have to be the likely next step.

 

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