Contrary to claims of several government departments and local bodies, the ministry of home affairs (MHA) clarified that for registration of births and deaths, Aadhaar is not required as proof of identity. This was confirmed by the ministry, while replying to an application filed under the Right to Information (RTI) Act.
The reply cites a circular (F. No1/12/2018-VS (CRS)/385-386) issued by the MHA on 3 April 2019. The circular states: "...the registration of births and deaths in the country is being done under the provisions of registration of births and deaths (RBD) Act, 1969 and there is no provision in the RBD Act, which permits the use of Aadhaar for establishing the identity of an individual for the purpose of registration of birth and death. There being no law framed for such use of Aadhaar, section 57 (of Aadhaar Act) is not attracted, therefore, the requirement of Aadhaar for registration of births and deaths are not mandatory."
Visakhapatnam-based MVS Anil Kumar had filed the RTI application seeking information on whether Aadhaar is mandatory for registration of death or not. He was told that registration of births and deaths in the country has been done under the provisions of the RBD Act, however, the onus of implementation of the provisions of the Act lies on the respective state governments or Union Territories (UTs).
Earlier in September 2018, while upholding the constitutional validity of the Aadhaar Act, the Supreme Court had barred body corporate and individuals from seeking authentication of Aadhaar under Section 57. In fact, the apex court had declared Section 57 of the Aadhaar Act unconstitutional.
The SC had said, "Apart from authorising the state, even ‘any body corporate or person’ is authorised to avail authentication services, which can be on the basis of purported agreement between an individual and such body corporate or person.
"Even if we presume that the legislature did not intend so, the impact of the aforesaid features would be to enable commercial exploitation of an individual’s biometric and demographic information by the private entities.
"Thus, this part of the provision, which enables body corporate and individuals also to seek authentication, that too on the basis of a contract between the individual and such body corporate or person, would impinge upon the right to privacy of such individuals. This part of the section, thus, is declared unconstitutional."
MHA also directed officials to take appropriate steps to avoid any inconvenience to citizens and also clarify to all local registering authorities that the applicant may provide physical copy of Aadhaar on a voluntary basis as one of the acceptable documents.
"However, it may be ensured that the first eight digits of the Aadhaar number are masked with black ink. In no case is the Aadhaar number to be stored in the database or printed on any document. Only the last four digits of the Aadhaar number may be printed or stored, if needed. Therefore, the use of Aadhaar number for the purpose of registration of birth and death need not be considered as mandatory requirement," the circular signed by Sandhya Singh, deputy registrar general in MHA says.