The Indian government is actively taking into consideration the amendments to the Telegraph Act and the Prevention of Money Laundering Act (PMLA) to provide legal backing for mobile numbers and bank accounts to be linked to Aadhaar on a voluntary basis.
The ministry of electronics & information technology has moved a proposal to this effect, which has gone through detailed legal scrutiny and is currently being examined by other stakeholder ministries, especially finance and telecom.
Also, the proposal includes an amendment to the Aadhaar Act to recognise the virtual token that is used to prevent sharing of the actual Aadhaar number. The UIDAI has provided for this token through its rules, but stronger legal backing is now being sought.
After several rounds of internal deliberations following the Supreme Court order on Aadhaar, it has been stated that it was felt that government should not look to bring back Section 57 and instead implement the order by introducing these amendments.
The apex court had read down this provision, which allowed private entities to access Aadhaar database for verification purposes.
However, the order left room for the government to legislate specifically for any services that it may want linked to Aadhaar. Here, sources said, the Telegraph Act provided the necessary space to bring in an amendment to include Aadhaar in the e-KYC (know your customer) options.
PMLA already requires the government to be able to track the sources of funds in case of laundering related to terror actions, which is the basis for carrying out a periodic KYC exercise. Linking bank accounts to Aadhaar, sources said, enables the government to execute any task, if required, and amendment to this end will provide the necessary legal cushion.