In violation of the Aadhaar Act, the card numbers of lakhs of pension beneficiaries are suspected to have been displayed on a government website, a report by ‘The Indian Express’ has said. As per the act, the unique identity number is not allowed to be “published, displayed or posted publicly”.
The error came to light yesterday, when the UIDAI office in Ranchi called up the office of the Department of Women and Child & Social Security of the Government of Jharkhand, on whose website the numbers were displayed openly to the public. However, it is not clear since how long the data had been displayed on the deprtment’s website.
According to the Aadhaar (Targeted Delivery of Financial and Other Subsidies, Benefits and Services) Act, 2016, “No Aadhaar number or core biometric information collected or created under this Act in respect of an Aadhaar number holder shall be published, displayed or posted publicly, except for the purposes as may be specified by regulations.”
While accessing the website on Saturday, the Sunday Express picked up Khunti district randomly. The website showed basic details of beneficiaries, which included their Aadhaar numbers and bank accounts. However, reacting swiftly, authorities managed to take the same off the website by late evening.
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Earlier this month, the Supreme Court questioned the Centre for making the unique biometric identity card a compulsory for filing of tax returns and obtaining PAN. “How can you make Aadhaar card mandatory when we have passed an order to make it optional?” a bench led by justice AK Sikri asked attorney general Mukul Rohatgi. Rohatgi had earlier said that mandatory seeding of PAN numbers with Aadhaar — done through the latest Finance Bill which inserted Section 139AA of the Income Tax Act — was a “legislative mandate”. He also recalled that the top court had made Aadhaar necessary for procurement of SIM cards to check misuse and protect national security.