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Home / Politics / Policy /  Authentication pricing decision deferred till June, says UIDAI

New Delhi: The Unique Identification Authority of India (UIDAI), which is implementing the Aadhaar project to provide every resident with a 12-digit ID, has decided to defer an announcement of fees it will charge for its authentication services.

The announcement, which was due on Monday, has been put off until June, a senior UIDAI official said, speaking on condition of anonymity. The announcement had originally been due in December.

Another government official confirmed the development. “The decision is still under process and UIDAI has decided authentication and other services will be free of charge for three more months," the second official said, also on condition of anonymity.

Authentication refers to the verification of information about a person (a customer at a bank or a shop) using details such as the biometric fingerprint or iris scan registered with the UIDAI’s database.

Aadhaar has been criticized in the past because of privacy concerns and the transfer of government welfare payments to the bank accounts of beneficiaries linked to the project although enrolling in it is supposed to be voluntary.

On 24 March, the Supreme Court said UIDAI should not share information with any government agency even for criminal investigation without the consent of people enrolled in its database.

The UIDAI pleaded that the biometrics data was for civilian rather than forensic use.

The court added: “no person shall be deprived of any service for want of Aadhaar number in case he/she is otherwise eligible/entitled. All the authorities are directed to modify their forms/circulars/likes so as to not compulsorily require the Aadhaar number in order to meet the requirement of the interim order passed by this Court forthwith."

On 23 September, it passed an interim order in response to a batch of public interest litigations, saying people shouldn’t suffer for not possessing an Aadhaar card and the agency should check those who apply for a card to make sure they are entitled to it and aren’t illegal immigrants.

While the agency has been asked to enrol residents of four more states—Uttar Pradesh, Bihar, Chhattisgarh and Uttarakhand—the Cabinet Committee on Political Affairs decided to put the transfer of cooking gas subsidy through Aadhaar-linked bank accounts on hold until a committee looks into its merits.

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