The Aadhar Card: New Companies Act Filing requirements and Data Security issues in India.

Aadhaar to become compulsory for regulatory filings under the Companies Act    

 

In a significant development to Indian Company Law compliance, the Corporate Affairs Ministry has asked

individual stakeholders, including DIN (Director Identification Number) holders/ Directors/ Key Managerial Personnel to obtain Aadhaar at the earliest for integration of their details with MCA21, the portal through which filings required under the Companies Act are submitted to the Ministry.  The New Indian Express reported that this would help determine the authenticity of individuals and the 8-9 lakh registered companies which did not file annual returns.

Recently, the Government of India, introduced an amendment to the Income Tax Act, making it mandatory for individuals to quote Aadhaar / Enrolment ID of Aadhaar application form, for filing of return of income and for making an application for allotment of Permanent Account Number with effect from 1 July 2017.

Does it affect Non-Resident Indian (NRI) and Foreign Directors? 

According  Aadhaar Act 2016, only a resident individual is entitled to obtain Aadhaar and therefore Non-Resident Indians (NRI) are not required to obtain Aadhaar cards as they are not eligible under Section 3(1) of the Act. The Gulf News reported that CEO of Unique Identification Authority of India (UIDAI), Dr. Pandey had clarified that the relevant government departments are responsible for providing exemption to the NRIs on Aadhaar requirement.

 

 

Indian citizens’ data and digital security

With 1.2 billion Aadhaar card holders, Aadhaar has become one of the largest biometric identification projects in the world. However, concerns have been raised over violation of privacy, identity theft and the possibility of intrusive Government surveillance of residents.

Expansion of services and schemes linked with Aadhaar, raises the possibility of misuse of the Aadhaar information and, at the same time, law limits the scope of the victim to file a complaint and an investigation is possible only on Unique Identification Authority of India (UIDAI) order. The Aadhaar Scheme has 582 banks, brokerages and government departments listed as registered users with access to the data of Aadhaar and no privacy laws protect Indians against the publication of such confidential data.The Economic Times reported, that a government department in April 2017, uploaded the details of a welfare scheme disbursement on the internet, in compliance with transparency norms set by the Right to Information Act, 2005 and citizen’s privacy concerns took a backseat. With increased digitization, citizens are exposed to a greater risk of data theft and it goes beyond the issue of Aadhaar.

A study published by Bengaluru-based Centre for Internet and Society (CIS) on May 1 found that data of over 130 million Aadhaar card holders has been leaked from four government portals. Unaccountability due to lack of Indian laws which provide a stringent data privacy and data protection laws to maintain confidentiality, security and  integrity of data as well as strict laws to punish offenders are glaring loopholes in the existing system.   Following Demonetization, the digital footprint has increased and private sector has increased its spending on security and data protection measures, which has not been the case for government agencies. 

Recently, the Times of India reported that the UIDAI CEO had said, “To say that Aadhaar has been breached, privacy is endangered is incorrect, misleading and even irresponsible,” while arguing that the display of Aadhaar-linked information on websites of government agencies had not led to leakage of biometric information.

According to a 2012 report by the Standing Committee on Finance on this issue, the Government of United Kingdom had repealed its Identity Cards Act, 2006 in 2010, which was very similar to Aadhaar, citing a range of reasons, including high cost, unsafe, untested and unreliable technology, and the changing relationship between the state and the citizen, etc. However in India, there are no signs of any move against Aadhaar these critical issues remain unaddressed. 

 

Lex Meridian provides comprehensive advice and support to Businesses Indian, Foreign Nationals on company formation and all company and commercial law related matters in India and the United Kingdom.

Contact us info@lexmeridian.com  

Reliance in arbitration with the government

Former UK judge Sir Bernard Rix, who recently retired as Lord Justice of Appeal with 20 years experience in the Commercial Court and the Court of Appeal in London replaces former Chief Justice of India S P Bharucha as the arbitrator in the KG-D6 cost recovery dispute by Reliance Industries. Bharucha quit after the government challenged his nomination on the grounds that he did not disclose his previous associations with Reliance Industries. Continue reading