Abu Dhabi: A recent order issued by the authority responsible for India’s biometric identity card called Aadhaar has brought fresh relief to millions of Non-Resident Indians (NRIs).
The Unique Identification Authority of India (UIDAI) had already announced that NRIs did not need to submit Aadhaar for any services that mandatorily required it. However, the new order issued on November 15 by Dr Ajay Bhushan Pandey, CEO of UIDAI, directs federal ministries and departments to issue appropriate directions to state governments and other relevant agencies that NRIs are not eligible for Aadhaar.
Despite the UIDAI’s earlier assurance, NRIs have been complaining that many government and private agencies demand Aadhaar for many services, including obtaining SIM cards and opening bank accounts.
According to the law, an Indian is treated as non-resident if he/she has not stayed in the country for at least 182 days in the preceding year.
This is probably due to ignorance among officials about NRIs being ineligible for Aadhaar. The order has also specifically listed 16 services directly or indirectly connected with NRIs, which will help them refute any demand from officials who seek Aadhaar for these services.
In an interview with Gulf News on March 29, Dr Pandey had made it clear that only residents of India were entitled to Aadhaar.
In a subsequent interview with Gulf News on July 25, he said that if banks, or any Indian institutions, demanded Aadhaar from NRIs, they could assert that they were not eligible for it. Dr Pandey said that even if the government wants to extend the ambit of Aadhaar to NRIs, the existing law has to be amended by parliament. A mere amending of the rules by the government is not enough, he explained.
Pandey was referring to Section 3.1 of the Aadhaar Act 2016, which says that only a resident shall be entitled to an Aadhaar number.
Although the act does not specifically and explicitly exempt NRIs from enrolment, the official was referring to the fact that an Indian would be treated as non-resident if he/she has not stayed for at least 182 days in India in the preceding year as per other relevant laws, including the Income Tax Act.
Meanwhile, the Indian Supreme Court last Friday permitted a Dubai-based Indian Femin Panikkassery to intervene in a batch of petitions already pending in the court, challenging the constitutional validity of the Aadhar Act and notifications issued under it.
16 services where NRIs need not produce Aadhaar
- Opening bank accounts
- Service pension
- Filing e-KYC (know your customer)
- Applying for new mobile phone connections
- Maintaining existing NRE and NRO bank accounts
- Registering with digital life certificate for pension
- Registering with Kendriya Sainik Board Secretariat (for retired defence personnel)
- Maintaining ex-servicemen contributory health scheme
- Various scholarships introduced for children of ex-servicemen
- Applying for defence canteen smart card
- Applying for LPG connection
- Registering with e-district service for obtaining various services from state governments
- Issuance of fresh or renewal of driving licence
- Students appearing for entrance examinations in India
- Issuance of certificates by universities/boards to students under different public examinations
- Applying for registration of property