UIDAI Chairman has not been given the Cabinet rank and will hold power limited to provisions defined under the Aadhaar Act 2016. “Rank will be as governed under law. Granting Cabinet (rank) status is decided by the Cabinet. Our government does not appreciate desire to get Cabinet status,” IT and Law Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad told reporters here.
He was responding to a query on rank status of Chairman of the Unique Identification Authority of India (UIDAI) which was equivalent to a Cabinet minister under the UPA regime. Prasad administered the oath of Office and Secrecy to J Satyanarayana, retired 1977 batch IAS of Andhra Pradesh cadre, who has been appointed part-time chairman of UIDAI as per the Aadhaar (Targetted Delivery of Financial And other Subsidies, Benefits and Services) Act 2016. The minister also administered the oath to IT company netCore’s founder and Managing Director Rajesh Jain and Persistent Systems’ Chairman and Managing Director Anand Deshpande — who have been appointed as part-time members of UIDAI.
Both the members will continue to manage their present businesses as well. Prasad said that legal framework around Aadhaar is very stringent and enshrines enough provisions to ensure privacy, security and secrecy of the personal data. “The legal framework of Aadhaar completely maintains secrecy. There is a legal provision in Aadhaar that owner of Aadhaar even with his own consent cannot reveal to anyone his biometric details — his iris and finger prints,” Prasad said.
He said that even police cannot take Aadhaar details unless their is proper court order. “Only in case of national security, the core biometrics iris and finger print can be revealed… and that too there will be a committee under joint secretary which will be affirmed by Cabinet secretary,” Prasad said.
As on September 7, the UIDAI has generated 105.11 crore Aadhaar numbers.
“If we take 2015 census, the Aadhaar today covers 98 per cent of adult population. 50 lakh people of India are accessing their biometrics on daily basis. The minister said that around 32 crore people have linked their bank accounts to Aadhaar. “Total number of transactions on Aadhaar platform has reached 131.11 crore and total amount involved in those transactions is Rs 37,184.81 crore. We have saved amount of about Rs 36,000 crore from Aadhaar based transactions,” Prasad.
He said that as per a World Bank report published in January 2016, if Aadhaar is used in all the schemes in India by both Centre and states then it will lead to savings of about Rs 70,000 crore a year. The minister, however, said that “no services will be denied to person not holding Aadhaar but one will be encouraged to go for it.”