Aadhaar Card: Understanding Its Significance, Schemes, and Legal Status

Introduction: Understanding Aadhaar Card

Over the years, the world has transitioned from paper-based identification systems to digital ones. In countries like India, proving one’s identity has often been a challenge, particularly for marginalized sections of society, hindering their access to government subsidies and benefits. To address this issue, the government launched the Aadhaar project in 2009. Aadhaar, conceived as a biometric-based identification number, was deemed more reliable and trustworthy.

Significance of Aadhaar

The Aadhaar number, also known as UID, is issued by the Unique Identification Authority of India (UIDAI) and serves as both an identity proof and an address proof. It has replaced numerous other cards previously used for government subsidies and benefits, such as driver’s licenses, voter IDs, and ration cards.

To obtain an Aadhaar card, individuals need to provide biometric and demographic information, including photographs, ten fingerprints, name, date of birth, gender, and residential address.

Legal Status and Protection

India lacks specific laws on privacy and data security, but the Aadhaar Act of 2016 provides some protection. It restricts UIDAI and its officers from disclosing an individual’s identity, information, and authentication records. It also prohibits unauthorized collection or use of another person’s information for authentication, as well as sharing a person’s Aadhaar number or fingerprints.

Schemes Linked to Aadhaar

Identity Proof

Aadhaar is accepted by both central and state governments as proof of identity for various services, including passport applications, opening bank accounts, and obtaining a permanent account number (PAN).

Electoral Rolls Verification

Aadhaar helps in identifying and eliminating duplicate entries in electoral rolls by linking Aadhaar numbers with voter ID cards.

Opening Bank Accounts

Aadhaar is mandatory for opening bank accounts and conducting transactions of Rs 50,000 or above.

Provident Funds

Linking Aadhaar to the Universal Account Number (UAN) facilitates direct transfer of funds to employees’ savings accounts.

Income Tax Returns

Aadhaar-PAN linkage is mandatory for filing income tax returns online.

Government Welfare Schemes

Aadhaar is required for various government schemes, such as the Pradhan Mantri Ujjwala Yojana, Jan Dhan Yojana, and Maternity Benefit Programme, to ensure efficient delivery of benefits to beneficiaries.

Foundation and Record of Aadhaar Case

Establishment of Aadhaar (2006-2007)

The Aadhaar project was initiated by the UPA government to provide identification for marginalized and below-poverty-line families.

Unique Identification Authority of India (UIDAI) (September 2009)

The UIDAI was established to issue Aadhaar cards to citizens, with Nandan M. Nilekani serving as the first chairman.

Legal Challenges

In 2012, retired Justice K S Puttaswamy filed a writ petition challenging the government’s policy of making Aadhaar compulsory and linking citizens’ biometric IDs with government schemes, citing violations of equality and privacy rights.

Final Judgment of the Aadhaar Case

The Supreme Court ruled that the Aadhaar Act does not violate citizens’ right to privacy by sharing biometric data. Private companies were prohibited from using Aadhaar for Know Your Customer (KYC) authentication, except for specific purposes like PAN card and income tax returns.


The Aadhaar project has significantly impacted identification and access to government services in India. While its legal status and usage have evolved over time, Aadhaar remains an essential tool for identity verification and delivery of government benefits. However, concerns regarding privacy and data security continue to be addressed through legislative and judicial measures, ensuring a balance between convenience and protection of citizens’ rights.

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FAQs: Understanding Aadhaar Card

FAQ 1: What is Aadhaar and how does it function as an identity proof in India?

Answer: Aadhaar is a biometric-based identification system launched by the Indian government in 2009. It provides individuals with a unique identification number, known as the Aadhaar number or UID, which can be linked to various services such as bank accounts, pension schemes, and more. Aadhaar serves as both an identity proof and an address proof in India.

FAQ 2: What are some key schemes and services linked to Aadhaar in India?

Answer: Aadhaar is linked to a variety of government schemes and services in India, including electoral roll verification, opening bank accounts, provident funds, income tax returns, Pradhan Mantri Ujjwala Yojana, Jan Dhan Yojana, Maternity Benefit Programme, Aam Aadmi Bima Yojana, and more. It facilitates the efficient delivery of subsidies and benefits to eligible individuals.

FAQ 3: What was the outcome of the Aadhaar case before the Supreme Court of India?

Answer: The Supreme Court of India upheld the constitutionality of the Aadhaar Act but placed restrictions on its usage. Private companies were barred from using Aadhaar for KYC authentication, while certain government-related activities such as filing income tax returns and obtaining PAN cards still required Aadhaar. The court also ruled that Aadhaar was not mandatory for students appearing for exams like NEET, CBSE, and UGC and that no child could be denied government schemes for lack of Aadhaar.

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