This post was originally published on 26 July 2017
Non-Resident Indians (NRIs) visiting India on vacation are exempted from showing Aadhaar cards for official purposes, the chief of Aadhaar authority in India has confirmed.
“NRIs are exempt from obtaining Aadhaar cards. These are only for Indians residing in the country and not for those living abroad,” clarified Dr Ajay Bhushan Pandey, CEO of the Unique Identification Authority of India (UIDAI).
- UIDAI, which has issued 1.16 billion cards as of now, is responsible for the processing and authentication of data for Aadhaar and maintaining India’s Central Identities Data Repository.
According to the official, circulars have been sent to all government departments, banks and education institutions, that NRIs are exempt.
However several NRIs are still facing hardships as officials in some departments are still demanding Aadhaar card for things like filing tax returns, school admissions etc.
If banks, or any Indian institutions, demand that NRIs produce Aadhaar for official transactions, simply inform them that NRIs are not eligible for the identity card issued to residents of India.
“Just tell them that we (NRIs) are not eligible for Aadhaar, therefore, don’t force us to produce it,” Dr Ajay Bhushan Pandey told Gulf News in a telephone interview from New Delhi.
Don’t believe misleading reports
Dr. Pandey urged NRIs not to pay attention to misleading reports in some sections of the media.
“I have asked a newspaper to correct a wrong report,” Dr Pandey said, referring to a news report published by a Dubai-based newspaper that quoted a State Bank of India executive urging NRIs to get Aadhaar at the earliest.
“They (the newspaper) did not give the correct information, or perhaps the banker did not know the correct information,” he said.
“Bank employees can talk about their own bank policy, but they should not talk about wrong things,” Dr. Pandey added.
Aadhaar is for residents only
Section 3.1 of the Aadhaar Act 2016 says that only a resident is entitled to an Aadhaar number.
“The Aadhaar Act 2016 refers to resident Indians, not expats. Officials in local departments in India should be aware of the rules and read the charter to spare us the confusion with their irresponsible statements,” Pandey also said while speaking to Khaleej Times.
The term “Resident Indian” refers to citizens who have resided in India for a period or periods amounting in all to 182 days or more in the 12 months immediately preceding the date of application for enrolment.
This means that an NRI can apply for an Aaadhaar only if he or she has been living in India for six months. Those Indians on a short vacation in their home country do not need a card.
Residents must state in disclosure clause of the form that they have been living in the country without a break for six months, which again rules out NRIs.
What about those NRIs who obtained Aadhaar
On whether NRIs who have applied, or obtained, Aadhaar risk prosecution for committing an illegality, Dr. Pandey said: “I don’t think we will extend it that far. At this point, what we would like to make sure is that NRIs do not need Aadhaar”.
Asked whether NRIs who already obtained Aadhaar can use it in India for official transaction, Dr. Pandey said: “If they obtained it when they were residents and later became NRIs, they can use it freely.”
When pointed out to him that most of them took the card without knowing the legal position, he said : “They did not follow the law. I cannot advise someone who did not follow the law. I have to look at it case by case.”
Dr Pandey said that even if the government wants to extend the ambit of Aadhaar to NRIs in the future, the existing law has to be amended by parliament. A mere amending of the rules by the government is not enough, he explained.