The Unique Identification Authority of India (UIDAI) has imposed fines worth multiple-crores on telecom major Bharti Airtel and Axis Bank for breaching terms and conditions attached to Aadhaar authentication, reported ToI.
"UIDAI has imposed disincentives on Airtel and Axis Bank for failing in their duties as requesting agencies" under the Aadhaar Act seeking authentication of identity, senior advocate Rakesh Dwivedi informed a bench headed by Chief Justice Dipak Misra.
While the UIDAI had temporarily barred the telecom firm and Airtel Payments Bank from conducting Aadhaar-based SIM verification of mobile customers using eKYC process, it is unclear whether the disincentives imposed on Airtel was linked to its above decision.
Referring to Section 57 of the Aadhaar (Targeted Delivery of Financial and Other Subsidies, Benefits and Services) Act, 2016, the bench enquired whether the law permitted private entities to use Aadhaar authentication. The bench also asked UIDAI to list steps taken to safeguards users' data.
Dwivedi explained that if a state government requires a person's identity authentication apart from the purpose of distributing financial and other subsidies, the assembly concerned had to enact a law empowering it to do so.
“Only after enacting a law specifying the purpose can a state approach UIDAI for access to Aadhaar data for authentication purposes,” Dwivedi said.
With regard to corporate entities, the firm has to first make an agreement with its employees for use of their Aadhaar data for identity authentication purposes.
“But UIDAI has made a decision that no chaiwala, panwala, restaurant or open ended retail outlets will be allowed to become requesting entities for Aadhaar authentication,” Dwivedi said, adding that Aadhaar under the Act was mandatory only for receiving financial subsidies or other benefits linked to consolidated funds.
“Other linkages, like bank accounts, mobile phones etc are under separate laws which has no bearing on the operation of Aadhaar Act,” Dwivedi said.