Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Parliamentary panel questions idea of Aadhaar

Reject National Identification Authority of India Bill

New Delhi: The standing committee on finance headed by Yashwant Sinha has rejected the National identification Authority of India Bill 2010 which is to give the parliament's stamp of approval to the Unique Identification Authority of India (UIDAI) headed by Nandan Nilkani, formerly of Infosys. This could  totally jeopardise the UPA government's ambitious project of social and economic significance.
The UIDAI was to issue the 'Aadhaar'' numbers which will help the government to target below the poverty line (BPL)beneficiaries for the welfare schemes meant for the poor. Set up after deliberations by the government at the ministerial and secretaries' levels between 2006 and 2008, the UIDAI was set up in January 2009.  But its ambit was enlarged to include the billion plus residents. The initial target of the UIDAI is to issue Aadhaar numbers to 200 million people.  The committee suggested that the data collected by the UIDAI should be transferred to the National Population Register (NPR) "if the Government so chooses."
It has based on the rejection on the objections and reservations expressed by the ministry of home affairs. Surprisingly, the committee had depended on news reports for dealing with home ministry's views and did not directly call for information from the ministry. On Page 8 of its report, the committee note: "In a news item dated 6th September 2011, it has been reported that the Ministry of Home Affairs have identified flaws in the enrolment process followed by the UIDAI, citing cases where people have got Aadhaar numbers on the basis of false affidavits."
The main reason for rejecting the bill is that the UIDAI has started functioning under the Planning Commission even before the parliament has passed the bill. The objection was based on a presentation made by Rama Jois. The ministry of planning told the committee that opinion of the ministry of law and justice and that of the attorney general has made it clear that the executive's power was co-extensive with legislature, and that it can set up statutory authority.
The committee did not accept the reasoning and noted in the section on "Observations / Recommendations' pointed out "...since the law making is underway with the bill being pending, any executive action is as unethical and violative of Parliament's prerogatives as promulgation of an ordinance while one of the Houses of Parliament being in session."
The other major objection of the committee to Aadhaar is that it does not distinguish between citizen and resident, and that every resident is entitled to get the Aadhaar number which overlooks the problem of illegal immigration into the country.
The most scathing criticism of the committee against the work of the UIDAI comes next: "The UID scheme has been conceptualised with no clarity of purpose and leaving many things to be sorted out during the course of its implementation: and is being implemented in a directionless way with a lot of confusion.  

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