Lok Sabha passes Aadhaar Companies Amendment Bill

The Lok Sabha passed Aadhaar and other laws (Amendment Bill) 2018 and Companies Amendment Bill 2018. The lower house of the parliament passed the Aadhaar bill to amend the Aadhaar Act and two related laws, which will allow individuals to offer voluntarily biometric ID as a means of identity verification for obtaining services such as opening a bank account and procuring mobile phone connection.The Aadhaar Bill seeks to amend the Aadhaar Act, 2016, the Indian Telegraph Act, 1885, and the Prevention of Money Laundering Act, 2002.It provides for voluntary sharing of the 12-digit identification number for obtaining new mobile phone connections and opening bank accounts.

Aadhaar and Other Laws (Amendment) Bill

  • Bill seeks to amend the Aadhaar (Targeted Delivery of Financial and Other Subsidies, Benefits and Services) Act, 2016, the Indian Telegraph Act, 1885 and the Prevention of Money-laundering Act, 2002. The bill proposes changes in the laws to comply with a Supreme Court judgment pronounced on September 26. 2018, in which it upheld the constitutional validity of the unique identification project with certain restrictions and changes.
  • The court had then prohibited the compulsory use of Aadhaar-based KYC for mobile connections and bank accounts.
    The bill also gives a minor the option to opt out of the 12-digit identity scheme on attaining the age of 18 years. It also provides for stiff penalties for violation of norms set for the use of Aadhaar.
  •  It bans storing of core biometric information as well as Aadhaar number by service providers in cases of individuals who have voluntarily offered the national ID as a means of authentication.
  • It also makes it clear that anyone not offering Aadhaar cannot be denied any service, be it a bank account or a SIM card.
    The legislation proposes telecom service providers, apart from using Aadhaar for authentication, can also leverage off-line verification, use of a passport, or any other officially valid document or modes of identification as notified by the central Government.

Companies( Amendment) Bill 2018

  •  Bill seeks to improve ease of doing business, declog the special courts and the National Company Law Tribunal (NCLT) and prescribe strong action against non-compliant companies. The Bill was necessitated as the Companies (Amendment) Ordinance, 2018 and was promulgated on November 2, 2018. It amends several provisions in the Companies Act, 2013, relating to penalties, among others.
  • It is based on the recommendations of a government-appointed committee to review offenses under the Companies Act in order to promote ease of doing business along with better corporate compliance.
  • The committee had suggested various changes to the Act in August 2018, including the restructuring of corporate offenses under the companies law and an in-house adjudication mechanism to ensure courts are left free to deal with serious violations.
  • Apart from the restructuring of corporate offenses to relieve special courts from adjudicating routine offenses, the panel mooted re-categorization of 16 out of the 81 compoundable offenses under the Act.
  • The committee had also recommended disqualification of directors in case they have directorships beyond permissible limits and capping an independent director’s remuneration.
  • The Bill also calls for instituting a transparent and technology-driven in-house adjudication mechanism on an online platform and publication of the orders on the website.