Karnataka set to make Aadhaar a must

Karnataka set to make Aadhaar a must

Karnataka set to make Aadhaar a must
Karnataka is quietly building a technology backend to deliver services through Aadhaar and is in the process of framing a law to make the 12-digit unique number compulsory.

The government’s e-governance wing, a portfolio Chief Minister Siddaramaiah handles, is moving to issue certificates and documents virtually through DigiLocker, the Centre’s flagship Aadhaar-based platform for storage, sharing and verification of documents.

The government is also working on introducing e-sign, an Aadhaar-based electronic signature that will negate the need for citizens to physically sign documents.

For starters, services of the Revenue department such as caste and income certificates, and the ration card by the Food and Civil Supplies department, will be issued to citizens’ DigiLocker accounts. A pilot project will be launched soon.

DigiLocker, according to Aadhaar architect Nandan Nilekani, is a key part of the India Stack: presence less, paperless, cashless and consent-driven governance. With documents stored in a cloud, service providers can pull them from DigiLocker with citizens' consent, making physical copies unnecessary.

"Right now, we issue administrative orders on Aadhaar. But, without a legal framework, these orders can be challenged. We are enacting a legislation and a draft has been prepared. This will enable departments to make Aadhaar compulsory," Additional Chief Secretary (e-governance) Rajeev Chawla said. "The draft will be placed before the Cabinet shortly."

The draft is modelled after the ones enacted in Maharashtra, Gujarat and Haryana. It has been vetted by a committee headed by Law Minister TB Jayachandra.

While 6.18 crore citizens have Aadhaar in Karnataka, only 1.41 lakh have DigiLocker accounts. States such as Tamil Nadu, Uttar Pradesh, Andhra Pradesh and Kerala have adopted DigiLocker.

The e-sign facility will be a game-changer, Chawla said. "Citizens are forced to visit government departments because they need to sign on forms. With e-sign, a farmer, for instance, can visit a citizen service centre (where he can apply for a service online), authenticate himself with his fingerprint and digitally sign the document."

While every e-sign costs Rs 5, the government plans to bear the cost initially without burdening the public. "No state has made use of e-sign. We have worked things out with the Centre for Development of Advanced Computing (C-DAC) to roll out the e-sign facility," Chawla said.

At present, Aadhaar is being chiefly used by the Food and Civil Supplies department for the public distribution system, the Education Department for a Student Achievement Tracking System and the Revenue department for Parihara, a direct benefit transfer scheme for farmers.

"The ecosystem will build on its own once we are able to show people value through DigiLocker and e-sign facilities," Chawla said.

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