The Unique Identification Authority of India (UIDAI), has issued a circular stating that the Non Resident Indians (NRIs) and Person Of Indian Origin (PIOs) are not required to link bank accounts and other services with Aadhaar. It has also instructed banks and various other agencies to work out a mechanism in order to verify the status of NRIs and PIOs.
Dr Ajay Bhushan Pandey, CEO of the UIDAI has asked the union ministries and departments to issue directives to all state governments and other agencies informing them that NRIs are not even eligible to apply for the national biometric identity card (Aadhaar). The order has listed out 16 direct or indirect services connected to NRIs.
It is a move welcomed by NRIs since, a lot of departments officials had been demanding them to produce their Aadhaar card for delivery of some services. The circular clearly noted that the central ministries, departments, state governments and other implementation agencies should keep in mind that Aadhaar as an identity document can be sought only from those eligible for it under Aadhaar Act, and that most NRIs/PIOs/ OCIs may not even be eligible for its enrolment.
Furthermore, according to the Prevention of Money laundering Rules 2017 and also the Indian Income Tax Act, the linking of bank accounts and PAN respectively, “is for those persons who are eligible to enrol for Aadhaar”.Thus, NRIs and PIOs will not fall under their ambit.
The Aadhaar-issuing body had received concerns and petitions from several cases about such problems faced by Non Resident Indians (NRIs), Person of Indian Origin (PIOs) and Overseas Citizens of India (OCI) where they were demanded Aadhaar for availing various services and benefits.
Apparently some departments were asking the NRIs/OCIs/PIOs to produce Aadhar or link it with their bank accounts for availing services. This was happening despite the fact that NRIs/PIOs/OCIs are not entitled for the 12-digit biometric card registration.
According to the UIDAI note dated November 15 to central and state ministries, “The laws regarding submitting/linking of Aadhaar for availing the services/benefits applies to the residents as per the Aadhaar Act 2016, Most of the NRIs/PIOs/OCIs may not be eligible for Aadhaar enrolment as per the Aadhaar Act,”
It has also ordered the implementing agency to workout a mechanism “to ascertain the genuineness of status of such NRIs/PIOs/OCIs”.
It comes as a relief to the mass NRI population of India since, the government of India in a notification from the revenue department, has made it clear that producing Aadhaar was mandatory for all existing resident Indian bank account holders by December 31, 2017. If they fail to do so, their account shall no longer be operational.