“According to Aadhar Act, only residents of India are entitled to get an Aadhaar number. NRIs cannot get an Aadhaar because they are not entitled to get it,” Dr Ajay Bhushan Pandey, CEO, Unique Identification Authority of India (UIDAI), said in a telephone interview from New Delhi.
The authority is responsible for the processes of enrolment and authentication of data for India’s unique identification system — Aadhaar — and maintaining India’s Central Identities Data Repository.
Pandey was referring to Section 3.1 of the Aadhaar Act 2016, which says that only a resident shall be entitled to obtain an Aadhaar number.
While applying for Aadhaar card, he explained, Indians have to make a declaration in the application stating that he/she is a resident (not an NRI).
The declaration reads: “I confirm that I have been residing in India for at least 182 days in the preceding 12 months.”
However, when it was pointed out that NRIs have already obtained the card, Dr Pandey said: “The legal position is that they were not supposed to apply for the card. [Moreover] they have given a declaration that they have stayed in India for 182 days [in the preceding year].”
Asked whether Indian expatriates would face any legal action for “illegally obtaining the card”, he said : “I am not sure. But technically there is a violation; they should not have taken it,” Dr Pandey said.
Pressed for an answer on whether the authority would initiative any legal action, he said: “I will have to see on what circumstances NRIs obtained the card.”
Asked whether those NRIs should cancel their cards to be on the safe side of the law, he said there was no provision to cancel Aadhar card. “Once generated, Aadhar number will exist forever.”
The CEO made it clear that NRIs need not worry about access being denied to government services for not having Aadhar card. It is the responsibility of the relevant departments to give exemption to NRIs in this regard, he added.
The departments can get a declaration from the NRI that, being an NRI, he or she is not eligible for Aadhar card.