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Aadhaar biometric ID not mandatory for vaccine, essential public services: UIDAI

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The Unique Identification Authority of India (UIDAI) has said no citizen should be denied access to COVID-19 vaccines or other essential public services because they do not have the country’s Aadhaar national digital ID, Business Standard reports.

In a statement issued recently by UIDAI which the outlet cited, the Authority says the Act regulating the biometric ID scheme provides for alternative methods of identification in the event where a user of a public service is not in possession of the number or when authentication using the number with biometrics or OTPs is unsuccessful.

The reaction from UIDAI follows recent complaints in the country that some citizens in the country are being denied access to certain services such as vaccine, medicine, hospitalisation or treatment because of lack of the Aadhaar.

India has been suffering some of its worst moments from the COVID pandemic in the last couple of weeks with efforts to increase vaccine supply and administration now a top priority for Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s government.

Aadhaar is the world’s biggest biometric ID system and touches about 1.2 billion Indian citizens and residents, according to UIDAI statistics.

“If one does not have Aadhaar or if Aadhaar online verification is not successful due to some reason, the concerned agency or department has to provide the service as per Section 7 of Aadhaar Act, 2016. Aadhaar should not be misused as an excuse for denial of any essential service. There is a well-established exception handling mechanism (EHM) for Aadhaar and it should be followed to ensure delivery of benefits and services in the absence of Aadhaar. If a resident does not possess Aadhaar for some of the other reason, s/he must not be denied essential services as per Aadhaar Act,” the UIDAI statement quoted by Business Standard reads.

UIDAI has called on users to be on the lookout and to report any cases of denial of service because of lack of the Aadhaar.

While Aadhaar seems to have helped government benefits reach millions of people in India, it has also not prevented numerous cases of exclusion, according to observers.

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