With each passing day, Aadhaar card is occupying greater and greater space in our lives. We have been asked to link Aadhar card to our mobile phones, bank accounts, PAN card, investments, and insurance. You need to link Aadhaar card to get various basic services such as availing LPG subsidy, service pension or filing income tax returns etc.
You might have to take a bit of pain to get Aadhaar linked at all these places.
However, spare a thought for those who do not hold an Aadhaar card and are not even eligible for it. I am talking about Non-resident Indians, PIOs and Overseas Citizens of India (OCIs).
Since they do not hold Aadhar card and can’t have fresh ones made for them, how do they manage the situation?
Going by what I have read, many of them are facing issues.
It is in this context that a recent circular by Unique Identification Authority of India (UIDAI) provides a lot of relief to non-residents.
UIDAI has taken cognizance of the hardships faced by such non-residents and has come out with a clarification.
Let’s discuss some of the aspects that the circular has mentioned.
Who is eligible for an Aadhaar Card? (Eligibility for Aadhaar Card)
The circular makes reference to Section 3(1) of the Aadhaar Act, 2016 where it is mentioned that, “every resident shall be entitled to obtain an Aadhaar number by submitting his demographic information and biometric information by undergoing the process of enrolment.”
Who is a resident as per Aadhaar Act, 2016?
Section 2(v) of the Aadhaar Act defines “resident” as an individual who has resided in India for a period or periods amounting in all to one hundred and eighty-two days or more in the twelve months immediately preceding the date of application for enrolment.
As I see, most NRIs won’t meet the eligibility criteria.
By the way, you have a third definition of NRI. We already had two definitions as per FEMA and Income Tax Act. Believe two were not enough.
Aadhaar information should be sought from only those who are eligible for Aadhaar card
The circular states that,
The laws regarding submitting/linking of Aadhaar for availing services/benefits apply to the resident as per the Aadhaar Act, 2016.
Most of the NRIs/PIOs/OCIs may not be eligible for Aadhaar enrolment as per the Aadhaar Act, 2016
Further, the circular concludes that the:
a) Aadhaar as an identity document may be sought only from those who are eligible for it as per the Aadhaar Act 2016; and
(b) most of the NRIs/PIOs/OCIs may not be eligible for Aadhaar enrolment as per the Aadhaar Act, 2016”.
The ministries/departments have been requested to issue appropriate directions to state governments/implementing agencies concerned. At the same time, the implementing agencies have been asked to devise a mechanism to ascertain the genuineness of such NRIs/PIOs/OCIs.
What does this mean?
Since most NRIs/PIOs/OCIs won’t meet the criteria for “resident” as per Aadhaar Act, they are not entitled to an Aadhaar card and hence cannot be forced to submit/provide Aadhaar details to avail services/benefits/schemes.
This will bring a huge sigh of relief to many NRIs.
Many NRIs (who don’t have Aadhaar yet) can simply take recourse under this circular and try convince the authorities.
As I see, this means Aadhaar card is not mandatory for NRI bank accounts or any other investments/services/benefits.
By the way, the circular also provides an illustrative (and not exhaustive) list of services where NRIs may be facing such problems (of linking Aadhaar):
- Linking PAN and Bank Accounts with Aadhaar
- Linking Service Pension with Aadhaar
- Aadhaar based e-KYC
- Applying for new mobile phone connections in India
- Maintaining the existing NRE/NRO bank accounts in India
- Registering with Jeevan Pramaan/Digital Life Certificate for pension
- Registering with Kendriya Sainik Board Secretariat (for retired Defence personnel)
- Maintaining Ex-Servicemen Contributory Health Service (ECHS)
- Various Scholarships introduced for the 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 license
- Appearing by students in different entrance exams in India
- Issuance of certificates by Universities/boards to students under different public examinations
- Applying for registration of property etc.