About 1.23 billion Aadhaar numbers have been generated until 20 February 2019, according to data available on the Unique Identification Authority of India (UIDAI) website. Aadhaar is a 12-digit identification number the UIDAI issues to the residents of India. However, once generated, there is no process to cancel or surrender Aadhaar, even after the death of a person. Also, there is no provision to even update information about a holder’s death in the Aadhaar database.
This could be one of the reasons why, in some states, the number of Aadhaar holders is higher than the total population. For instance, the saturation level in Delhi is 119.1%. In other words, while the total population in Delhi is 18.34 million, 21.84 million Aadhaar numbers have been assigned in the state.
In the absence of a provision for surrender, how should legal heirs ensure the Aadhaar number and details of a deceased person are not misused?
While you can surrender, cancel or update the death of a person in documents like Permanent Account Number (PAN), driving license or passport of a deceased person, there is no such option in case of Aadhaar. According to an answer given in the FAQ section on UIDAI website, “Currently UIDAI does not have a provision of recording of the death of a person as it is a means of providing for identification of a living person. Hence, there is no need to inform UIDAI in such cases.”
But as a security measure and to prevent misuse of biometric authentication, legal heirs should get the biometrics of the deceased person locked.
There is a provision to get the biometrics (fingerprints/iris) locked. The UIDAI records this data for authentication at the time of issuing an Aadhaar number.
Once the biometrics are locked , a specific error code ‘330’ will appear, indicating that the particular biometrics are locked if the ID is used for invoking any of the authentication services using biometric modality.
However, you can lock the biometrics only online through a desktop or mobile app. To do this, go to the Aadhaar services tab on UIDAI’s homepage, and click on the “lock/unlock biometrics” link. This will take you to the page: resident.uidai.gov.in/biometric-lock. Log into the deceased person’s profile. Select “Biometric Settings” on the top right hand side. To lock the biometrics, select the check box for “Enable Biometric Lock”, and save your selection. You will then be asked to key in the one-time password that will be sent to the deceased person’s registered number; so keep the phone handy. Once you enter the OTP, the biometric will be locked permanently, until unlocked.
That is why it’s always a good idea to keep your family and legal heirs in the loop regarding your financial details and related documentation. Sharing details would help a family member do the needful in case of your untimely demise.