The Aadhaar issuing body- Unique Identification Authority of India (UIDAI) plans to establish 114 Aadhaar service centres (seva kendra) across the country.
Aadhaar cards are 12-digit unique identification numbers linked to a citizen’s basic demographic and biometric information.
114 Aadhaar Seva Kendras (ASKs) in 53 cities and towns will be set up within the next few months. These centres will provide easy and accessible Aadhaar-related services, like enrolment and update facilities.
With the recent Indian Supreme Court verdict on Aadhaar, the UIDAI has put in place stronger safeguards to speed up India’s digital journey.
Now, Aadhaar authentication information cannot be stored for more than six-month period. The court also directed the Government not to issue Aadhaar to illegal immigrants.
The UIDAI CEO, Mr Ajay Bhushan Pandey said that the organisation has already started the process of deleting the authentication logs beyond six months.
In September, the Supreme Court restricted the use of Aadhaar authentication by private entities in the absence of a legal provision, but allowed its mandatory use for welfare schemes, filing of Income Tax (IT) returns and allotment of Permanent Account Number (PAN).
As Aadhaar does not create a “surveillance state” nor does it infringe on the right to privacy, the Supreme Court declared that the Government’s biometric identity project was constitutionally valid but limited the scope. As a result of this, Aadhar is not a pre-requisite for bank accounts, mobile connections or school admissions.
According to a UIDAI statement, the service centres aim is to ensure that the residents seeking services do not have to wait in queue as they can book a prior appointment.
Currently, Aadhaar enrolment centres are set up as walk-in centres. The new appointment-based Aadhaar enrolment and update service method will make the process “hassle-free and resident-friendly”. The ASKs will continue to have some counters for walk-in customers.
The UIDAI has noted that service providers can also use offline verification tools like e-Aadhaar, masked Aadhaar and Quick Response (QR) codes that use the unique ID without requiring authentication or access to biometrics.
As per the verdict regarding the linking of PAN to Aadhaar in 2017, the Supreme Court stated that it is crucial to have the proper safeguards to ensure there is no unauthorised leakage of data. Whether it is done by tightening the operations of the contractors who are given the job of enrolment or by putting in place severe penalties to those who are found guilty of leaking the details, is the outlook of the Government.
Mr Ajay Bhushan Pandey said that this move is expected to take the country miles ahead in its digital journey with augmented safety. He added that India’s digital journey will get a boost by this landmark judgement because it is now supported by stronger data protection safeguards.