Aadhar (Amendment) Bill passed by the Parliament to regulate biometric data use

The Aadhar (Amendment) Bill, 2019 (“Bill”) was passed by the Rajya Sabha on July 08, 2019 to replace the Ordinance dated March 2, 2019 so as to modify the existing laws relating to use of biometric data. Biometric data is intended to be used to authenticate the identity of an individual for the purpose of providing services, benefits and subsidies. The Bill proposes to allow voluntary use of Aadhar for getting mobile connections and bank accounts. The Bill will amend the Telegraph Act, 1885 and the Prevention of Money Laundering Act, 2002 and  states that persons with a license to maintain a telegraph, banking companies, and financial institutions may verify the identity of their clients.

The Bill also provides for obtaining Aadhar number for children with the consent of their guardians, which they can seek to terminate on reaching 18 years of age, if they so want.

As per the Aadhar (Targeted Delivery of Financial and Other Subsidies, benefits and services) Act, 2016 (“Act”), any revenue or fee collected by the Unique Identification Authority of India (“UIDAI”) will be credited to the Consolidated Fund of India (“CFI”). The Bill creates a Unique Identification Authority of India Fund, which shall be credited with any revenues and will be used for expenses of the UIDAI.

The Bill states that the Telecom Disputes Settlement and Appellant Tribunal (“TDSAT”) shall be the appellate authority for considering challenge against imposition of civil penalties. Any appeal against the orders of TDSAT will be brought before the Supreme Court of India.

Further, the Bill imposes a fine of ₹1,00,00,000/- (Rupees One Crore Only) along with imprisonment for the officers of private enterprises that violate the provisions of the Bill.

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Supreme Court of India in the case struck down the circular mandating the compulsory linkage of mobile numbers with Aadhaar. This bill fills the statutory void on Aadhaar. The bill follows the SC judgment and provides for voluntary use of Aadhaar instead of compulsory use. This bill is certainly an attempt in the right direction from the government.

Inter-Ministerial Committee set up to analyse trading in crypto currencies

Pursuant to the an RBI Notification dated April 06, 2018, trading in crypto currencies are not recognized as legal tender in India . Considering the growing popularity of crypto currencies, the Government of India has set up an Inter-Ministerial Committee (“IMC”) has been set up under the chairmanship of Secretary, Department of Economic Affairs to examine the issue of trading in crypto currencies.

The main question which will be addressed by the IMC is the impact of an official digital currency on the economy if it were to be introduced. The IMC has representation from Ministry of Information & Technology (“MeitY”), Reserve Bank of India (“RBI”), Securities Exchange Board of India (“SEBI”), and Central Board of Direct Taxation (“CBDT”).

If IMC members decide that the Indian market will favour from introduction of crypto currencies, then they will develop a framework to regulate its usage. Due to the novel and technical nature of the currency, there is no deadline set by the IMC.

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The government declared that crypto currencies are not legal tender primarily because of the risks like tax evasions and illegality involved in their investment. Due to the prohibition of dealing in virtual currencies in the Indian economy, blockchain firms were concerned about their standing in the market. There has been equal concern amongst people investing in these assets. The IMC Report will conclusively clarify their legal position and lay out a roadmap to reduce any transaction risks.

 

Casino Regulation amended to allow casinos up to 3 KM from Nepal’s international border

The Government of Nepal has recently amended the Casino Regulation, 2013 (“Regulation”) of Nepal, whereby casinos could not be set up within 5 kilometers (“km”) of the international border. The Nepalese cabinet amended the Regulation to reduce the restriction from 5 km to up to 3 km.

The government also introduced a regulatory framework earlier in August 2018 which provides for payment of license fees, royalties, and answers other ambiguities related to casino industry. This framework will streamline the casino industry and encourage other global players. It was originally proposed as an Act but the government has introduced it as a part of the Tourism Bill of 2018, which will be passed during the next parliamentary session in 2019.

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The amendments introduced by the Nepalese Government are being implemented to successfully promote the Visit Nepal 2020 campaign. The aim is to increase tourism revenue to Nepal, and this decision was taken by the government after operators proposed to start operations in areas which raised concern over existing restrictions. This will increase the revenue to the tourism and hospitality industries since the hotels which are closer to the border will also have casinos.

 

Disclaimer: This post has been prepared for informational purposes only. The information/or observations contained in this post does not constitute legal advice and should not be acted upon in any specific situation without seeking proper legal advice from a practicing attorney.