As Aadhaar gets new features, Centre mulls extending deadline

Officials of the Unique Identification Authority of India are likely to engage with Reserve Bank of India and Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (Trai) on the issue of extending the 31 March Aadhaar-linking deadline for a host of services, prominent being mobile SIM cards and bank accounts, according to a report in The Economic Times.

This comes as new security protocols are introduced to improve privacy and secure the world's largest digital repository of personal information.

"In the case of Permanent Account Number and bank accounts, the laws - the Income Tax Act and the Prevention of Money Laundering Act (PMLA) - require the Aadhaar number, so there is unlikely to be any impact," a top government official told ET.

The new security protocols, which allow people to make transactions with a virtual ID without revealing the unique number, come into effect from 1 June. These include a facial recognition feature and a one-time number that can be submitted in lieu of a person's actual Aadhaar number.

"Any scheme for which money goes from the Consolidated Fund of India will require Aadhaar," the official added. "Our view is that people are more comfortable sharing (Aadhaar number) with government agencies as compared to private ones."

Last year, the government mandated linking of the 12-digit Aadhaar number with PAN, bank accounts and mobile numbers. In addition, it was also required to be linked to various schemes including post office deposits, Public Provident Fund (PPF), the National Savings Certificate scheme and Kisan Vikas Patra.

"The government will soon hold meetings with the telecom department officials to learn whether they think companies require Aadhaar numbers," sources told ET. The same will be followed for insurance and mutual funds, where the department or regulator concerned will have to take a decision.

The deadline will only be extended if the people demand an extension, according to the source.