The Standing Committee on Finance has rejected the UID Bill, which was aimed to enforce bio-metrics enabled Aadhaar identification system on all residents of India
In a major set-back to the Manmohan Singh led government, the Planning Commission and Nandan Nilekani, the former chief of Infosys, the Parliamentary Standing Committee on Finance, headed by Yashwant Sinha has rejected the National Identification Authority of India Bill (NIA Bill).
So far, the UIDAI has issued over 5.75 million UID numbers across the country. The cumulative revised budget estimates of the Aadhaar project, which was launched in 2009, is Rs1,660 crore for FY11 and FY12. The UIDAI has already spent more than Rs556 crore on the scheme.
Considering all the overlaps, objections, and the serious differences within the government on the NIA Bill, the Standing Committee is going to call for a completely fresh legislation.
The finance ministry, the home ministry and the Planning Commission, further strengthening the committee's reservations to the big-ticket scheme, have also opposed the project.
The Parliament witnessed some tense moment while the report was being submitted. There was a spat between Congress' member of Paliament (MP) Rashid Alvi and Bhartiya Janata Party's (BJP) SS Ahluwalia. Mr Alvi accused the BJP MP of leaking a paper regarding the Bill to some reporters. Both the leaders also disagreed over the term 'residents' and 'citizens' as an eligibility for the UID or Aadhaar number.
Earlier last month, Home Minister P Chidambaram opinioned that the biometric census done by the Aadhaar project does not pass security criteria. The Home Ministry even claimed that UID number can be generated without any verification of documents, mandatory for it.
In addition, the Registrar General and Census Commissioner also categorically said that the job of collecting biometrics data should be left to them.
While the government does not have to go by the committee's recommendations, given the tense political situation, the United Progressive Alliance (UPA) government may not want to take any more chances, especially after the 10-days deadlock in the Parliament over foreign direct investment (FDI) in retail.
Earlier Bengaluru-based Col (Retd.) Mathew Thomas of Citizens' Action Forum and VK Somasekhar, founder-trustee of Grahak Shakti had filed a potential class action suit against the Unique Identification Authority of India (UIDAI).
According to the petition, there was urgency in filing the suit as the defendants (UIDAI, Union Govt, and Deputy Chairman, Planning Commission) intended to complete major part of the Aadhaar enrolment before the matter was decided by the Standing Committee on Finance and presented before the Lok Sabha so as to compel the Parliament to support the project with retrospective effect as money has already been spent.
"Every day the UID project continues, several crore of rupees of taxpayers' money would be lost. Apart from this, the continued gathering of people's data would be an unacceptable security risk both to the people and the nation its self. It is respectfully submitted that while millions are dying of hunger, starvation and deprivation be it children, women, men or aged persons, spending such huge amounts of money to benefit and make it possible for many to pocket the money at the expense of the citizen in the name of Aadhaar even without any legislative sanction is illegal. Plaintiffs are affected by the conduct of the defendants and so are many millions of Indians," said Col (Retd.) Thomas and Mr Somasekhar in the petition.
Apart from external affairs minister SM Krishna, his senior Congress colleague N Dharam Singh and JDS state unit president HD Kumaraswamy, who succeeded him as chief ministers, have been named in the FIR, Lokayukta ADGP Satyanarayana Rao informed the media
Bangalore: A first information report (FIR) was registered against external affairs minister SM Krishna and two other former Karnataka chief ministers by the Lokayukta Police today on a private complaint alleging that they facilitated illegal mining during their tenure, reports PTI.
Apart from Mr Krishna, his senior Congress colleague N Dharam Singh and JDS state unit president HD Kumaraswamy, who succeeded him as chief ministers, have been named in the FIR, Lokayukta ADGP Satyanarayana Rao told PTI.
Eleven bureaucrats have also been named in the FIR filed under various sections of the Prevention of Corruption Act, Forest Conservation Act, Forest Act and Minerals and Metals Regulation and Development Act (MMRDA) and IPC.
Admitting a private complaint filed by TJ Abraham on 3rd December, Lokayukta Court judge NK Sudhindra Rao had directed the police to investigate it and submit a report on or before 6th January.
The complainant has alleged Mr Krishna, who was the chief minister from October 1999 to May 2004, and Mr Dharam Singh and Mr Kumaraswamy permitted illegal mining for pecuniary gains.
Mr Abraham, a city-based social activist and a businessman, had submitted that his complaint was based on the report on illegal mining presented to the government by then Lokayukta Santosh Hegde in August.
With this, four former chief ministers are facing Lokayukta police probe based on private complaints. BS Yeddyurappa was released on bail last month after his arrest on a private complaint alleging irregularities in land denotifications to benefit his family members.
Trinamool Congress, a UPA constituent and partner in the government, had said it would vote in favour of an adjournment motion against FDI in retail. “This compelled us to put the brake on FDI decision,” finance minister Pranab Mukherjee said
New Delhi: Strongly defending its decision to allow foreign direct investment (FDI) in retail, finance minister Pranab Mukherjee Thursday told Congress MPs that the government was ‘compelled’ to suspend the move to avoid “pre-mature elections”, reports PTI.
Addressing the Congress Parliamentary Party, Mr Mukherjee also apologised to members who had supported the government in allowing FDI in retail but said going ahead with the decision could have created a ‘crisis’ for the government.
“I am sorry to those members who had supported FDI in retail and might be feeling let down. But if we had gone ahead it could have created a crisis for the government,” he said.
A member quoted Mr Mukherjee as saying that had the government gone ahead, it could have led to mid-term polls.
It was the responsibility of the Congress to take allies on board, he said in an apparent reference to Trinamool Congress which had opposed the decision.
Trinamool Congress, a UPA constituent and partner in the government, had said it would vote in favour of an adjournment motion against FDI in retail.
This stand had created a piquant situation for the government, Mr Mukherjee said pointing out that an adjournment motion was similar to a no-confidence motion and never before has any party in the government voted in favour of such a motion.
“This compelled us to put the brake on FDI decision,” he said.
Making it clear that suspension of the FDI decision did not amount to roll-back, Mr Mukherjee said that the government would strive to develop a consensus on the issue.