In your interest.
Online Personal Finance Magazine
No beating about the bush.
What has changed during past 12 months that required urgent intervention from the ‘pseudo supreme’ authority of Congress to lobby for increasing the subsidised LPG cylinders to 12? Will it stop the suffering of citizens who are harassed under the pretext of Aadhaar and subsidised cylinders? Here is what you can do in the meanwhile
As mentioned in the first part, the Aadhaar, LPG refill subsidy and direct benefit transfer (DBTL) scheme is in to complete mess. The ‘larger than life’ claims made by the proponents of Aadhaar, especially IT Czar Nandan Nilekani, are falling flat in practice. Can the Unique Identification Authority of India (UIDAI) explain why people are not receiving LPG refill subsidy on time and into their own lined bank account while people not related with these are receiving SMS about LPG subsidy? The mess is created under the pretext of unique identification (UID), which was then penetrated into the LPG subsidy through banking system. All this was done without taking into consideration the issue and problems of LPG refill distribution and banking system. This has resulted in citizens suffering at the hands of LPG distributors under the pretext of Aadhaar, which is meant for residents.
Following the interim order issued by the Supreme Court, all three oil marketing companies (OMCs), as well as union government and Ministry of Petroleum and Natural Gas (MoP&NG) had sought modification of the apex court’s order of 23 September 2013. The order unequivocally directed, “no person should suffer for not getting the Aadhaar card in spite of the fact that some authority had issued a circular making it mandatory.”
According to Justice KS Puttaswamy, the retired judge from Karnataka High Court, who had filed the public interest litigation in the Supreme Court, government schemes (of making Aadhaar mandatory) cannot be imposed upon people. Speaking with Citizen Matters, Bangalore, Justice Puttaswamy had said, "An interim order is as much as a final order. So presently all these government schemes cannot be imposed upon people. And if it is done, it is contempt of court. The interim order does not mention any names of schemes. But under this, no one can insist of Aadhaar for any government schemes like ration card, bank account, cash transfer, issue of LPG subsidies and so on."
Another interesting aspect of the whole Aadhaar drama is Congress and most political parties are avoiding taking a clear political position demanding scrapping of the biometric identification exercise and are speaking with forked tongue. Congress vice president Rahul Gandhi’s speech last week is nothing but another example of bluffing. When finance minister P Chidambaram said there is a need to increase the quota for subsidised LPG refill to 12 from nine, both oil minister Veerappa Moily and oil secretary Vivek Rae were quick to rule out the hike. However, as soon as Rahul Gandhi expressed the need to increase the quota, the same Moily was quick to say that his ministry would put forward such proposal before the upcoming cabinet meeting. This shows the politicisation of LPG subsidy, especially looking at the general elections in next few months.
It must be noted, it was the same Manmohan Singh-led government, which capped the subsidised LPG refill quota to six cylinders per year in September 2012. Following outcry from several quarters, in January 2013, it was increased to nine cylinders. The original idea behind the cap in LPG refill cylinders was to reduce the subsidy bill of the government. If the UPA government is interested in reducing subsidy bill, then why not scrap it in one stroke, instead of playing hide and seek games with common citizens?
Interestingly question though, what has changed between January 2013 and January 2014 that required intervention from the ‘pseudo supreme’ authority of Congress to lobby for increasing the LPG refill per year to 12? It is nothing but vote bank politics to appease voters before the general elections.
Hope the same thinking would be applied in scrapping the UID/Aadhaar project as well from the Congress high command, which still reportedly has not enrolled for the scheme.
In a country like ours where illiteracy is rampant and the average citizen is already burdened with different cards for different purposes- voter ID card, PAN card, BPL card, the forceful linking of Aadhaar with LPG refill subsidy is only burdening the common citizen. Hope the Supreme Court takes the OMCs, Oil Ministry and the UPA government to task and put the illegal ‘Aadhaar business’ to an end.
Most importantly, as Moneylife has been writing, the basic issue in India and its over billion citizens are not about subsidy, but it is about demand and supply gap. Citizens are being deprives their rightful benefits because the middleman-politicians-babu nexus is siphoning off the benefits before it reaches the end user. For example, citizens from a far away village are not receiving foodgrains because of the nexus. And directly transferring subsidy money in to these people’s bank account (if they have one) is not going to ensure that the foodgrains reach the village. This is because if the foodgrains are siphoned off before reaching the village and public distribution (PDS) shop, then how and from where these poor people are going to buy it? Anyway, that is subject for another article. Here we will discuss about the LPG refill subsidy only.
There are basically two types of LPG customers, one who has linked their Aadhaar and bank account and two, those who have not done so.
Those who do not have Aadhaar:
Such customers are being flooded with SMS to enrol for Aadhaar and link it to their bank account and subsequently provide the details to their LPG distributor. However, with the interim order of the Supreme Court being in force, the LPG distributor and OMC cannot deny the rightful subsidy to the rightful customers. This means, any LPG customer, who may or may not have submitted the Aadhaar is liable to get the nine subsidised LPG refills for FY2014 (unless the OMCs increase it to 12 refills per year following the diktat from Rahul Gandhi).
As Moneylife wrote, in one glaring example of misuse of powers, one distributor from Hyderabad not only denied a LPG refill to a customer despite showing willingness to buy it at market rate. Going one step ahead, the distributor even blocked the connection of the customer for not providing Aadhaar.
Those who have submitted Aadhaar are also facing problems:
Major issue these customers are facing is about receiving LPG refill subsidy on time and the communication. Several customers are still waiting for their subsidy to be deposited in their bank accounts. In the meanwhile, many had to buy the LPG refill at market rate that is without the subsidy. At present, the open market rate of a domestic (home use) LPG refill costs Rs1,275.5 while the subsidised refill costs Rs455. The subsidy amount in this case works out to be Rs820.5, however, the customer is getting only Rs794.84. This means he will have to pay the differential amount from his own pocket.
In addition, there is value added tax (VAT) and income tax that the customer will have to pay. The subsidised cost of LPG refill included all taxes, but for non-subsidised LPG cylinder the customers will have to borne the cost. In addition, since the money would be deposited in the bank account, it would be considered as ‘income from other sources’ and the customer would have to pay income tax, as per his/her obligations under appropriate slab.
What you can do?
Mathew Thomas, a former defence services officer and missile scientist turned civic activist, who is campaigning against state database control of the people, has already sent notices to the UIDAI, MOP&NG and all three OMCs for the contempt of Supreme Court order.
KP Janardan, one of the readers of Moneylife, had also sent a letter to the Chief Justice of India requesting to take suo moto action against the Oil Ministry. Pointing out toward an ad published by MoP&NG, he said, “It is worth noting that the Ministry has gone ahead and issued the said ad with impunity even after the Supreme Court had rejected a subsequent plea for a modification of Order dated 26/11/13. I would therefore request that the Supreme Court take suo moto notice of this wilful defiance of its Orders by the Union Ministry of Petroleum & Natural Gas and initiate contempt proceedings against it.”
Similarly, if you are being deprived of your rightful subsidy for LPG refill (nine cylinders at present), you can do several things. But you need to act fast, on your own.
1. Write a letter (email) to your LPG distributor giving reference of the Supreme Court order and ask why you have been denied subsidy for your rightful nine refills.
2. Send a copy of your letter (email) to the oil marketing company like HPCL, BPCL or IOC.
3. Make full use of the online portals of all OMC that shows the record of your LPG booking, delivery and subsidy.
4. Mention in your letter that as per the Essential Commodities Act, the OMC and distributor is mandated to deliver the LPG cylinder at your home within 48 hours of booking. As most of the distributors don’t follow this, you can tell your distributor that you would file a complaint before the Consumer Forum.
Here are rights of consumers under the Essential Commodities Act 1955 and the corresponding LPG (Regular Supply & Distribution) Order 2000...
-Bookings for the gas cylinder must be accepted over the phone.
-100% home delivery.
-The gas cylinder should to be delivered within 48 hours of booking.
-The customer has the right to weigh the cylinder on taking delivery.
-Gas agencies must be open for business between 10am and 6pm, except on public holidays and Sundays.
5. Also inform the LPG distributor that his/her act is contempt of Supreme Court order and you would be compelled to write to the Chief Justice of India for it.
6. If the LPG distributor/OMC continues to act high-handedly, then write to the Chief Justice of India (with supported documents), requesting the Court to take suo moto action for contempt of court order against your LPG distributor, the OMC, Ministry of Petroleum and Natural Gas, the minister of MoP&NG and last but not least, the Prime Minister. You can also include Nandan Nilekani, the chairperson o UIDAI, the UIDAI and Planning Commission (as UIDAI works under it).
7. Use the Right to Information (RTI) Act while perusing the matter with all the concerned as they all fall under the category of 'Public Authority' as defined under the Act. Your LPG distributor is not a public authority, but you can file RTI asking the OMC for details about the distributor. (Read: Hassled over the delay in the delivery of your gas cylinder? Try the RTI route)
Here is a sample/template for sending a letter to your LPG distributor prepared by Dr Anupam Saraph…
Your Gas Agency Name
Your Gas Agency Address
I am enclosing a copy of the Supreme Court Order dated 23 September 2013 indicating that no person should suffer for not getting the Aadhaar card in spite of the fact that some authority had issued a circular making it mandatory.
Your persistent demand for Aadhaar for me to claim the subsidized LPG refill cylinder entitled by me continues to cause my family suffering as I do not have an Aadhaar, do not wish to obtain one, and certainly do not want to link it with any bank account.
According to the Union Minister for Petroleum and Natural Gas M Veerappa Moily, 'Over 14 crore people in the country have LPG connections. However, three crore among them have got connections by producing fake documents’. Clearly the 11 crore honest and law-abiding citizens do not need to be made to suffer Aadhaar numbers or bank accounts?
Surely you cannot be placing blind faith on using a random number assigned by the UIDAI to a set of unverified and unaudited demographic and biometric data submitted and maintained/ operated by private parties who are paid for every record they submit in preference to your own records that you seem to have audited and have used all along? What purpose does this suffering serve?
Surely you know that through its notification of 28 September 2011 the Reserve Bank of India suspended the “Anti-Money Laundering” Rules for bank accounts opened with Aadhaar as the sole KYC? Surely you know this makes it possible to transfer subsidy to unverified accounts operated by anyone who has hold of the Aadhaar-linked bank account? Surely you cannot want to cause people to suffer the embezzlement of their subsidy?
I urge you to immediately discard any linkage or use of Aadhaar with your databases and revert to the time tested practices of issuing subsidized cylinders.
Your Consumer Number
Here are the addresses…
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Several people who have linked their Aadhaar with LPG distribution are either not receiving subsidy on time or not receiving the SMS. On the other hand, some people are receiving multiple SMS with different customer IDs about LPG refill and subsidy not related with them
The Supreme Court on 23 September 2013, in an interim order, directed that “no person should suffer for not getting the Aadhaar card in spite of the fact that some authority had issued a circular making it mandatory.”
However, despite this clear ruling, state-run oil marketing companies (OMC), like the Hindustan Petroleum Corp Ltd (HPCL), Bharat Petroleum Corp Ltd (BPCL) and Indian Oil Corp (IOC) are enforcing citizens to compel with the UID/Aadhaar requirement. This is not only causing troubles to citizens but lakhs of them are facing hardship due to the forceful implementation of Aadhaar for cooking gas (LPG).
And this is not limited to people who have not submitted their Aadhaar. Several consumers, who have enrolled and submitted their Aadhaar to the LPG distributor, are either not receiving the subsidy on time or not receiving any SMS. On the other hand, several people are receiving SMS about the LPG refill booking, cash memo and delivery, for a consumer number that is not theirs.
For example, I have neither enrolled for the Aadhaar nor I have linked my bank account with any UID number. Yet, I continue to receive SMS from my OMC giving details, about subsidy being deposited into a bank account that does not belong to me. Despite complaining to the OMC and LPG distributor, there is no action to delink my mobile number from the other consumer.
One of the readers of Moneylife, has been receiving SMS from OMC for three-four different consumer numbers. That too, when he has not received his own subsidy for the LPG refill in his own bank account. See the image below, the reader received SMS about booking of a LPG refill. Next message says ‘cash memo no165409 prepared on 27.12.2013 for Rs1044.50’ and his refill will be delivered shortly. The very next message (for the same booking number) says ‘subsidized cash memo 167664 dt 03.01.14 for Rs1273.5 prepared and the refill will be delivered shortly’. Then suddenly on 18th January, he received an SMS stating that his ‘booking no265829 is cancelled!’ (see the image below)
There are two things wrong in these messages. One, the consumer number does not belong to the reader and second, he is still waiting for his rightful delivery of LPG refill since more than 20 days. Interestingly, he still has to get the subsidy for his last refill and the distributor had told him that he would receive it in next 10-12 days.
Several readers of Moneylife have complained about threats being received from their LPG distributors for submitting the UID/Aadhaar number. All the distributors are using the one line threat, "You will not get any subsidy, if you do not provide your Aadhaar and link it to your bank account."
Even the social media is full of people who are having a tough time due to Aadhaar linkage with LPG refill and subsidy. Here is one such tweet that shows the mess of Aadhaar, LPG refill booking and direct benefit transfer (DBTL) scheme. The person has received subsidy through DBTL in his bank account without him booking the LPG refill!
Meanwhile, the OMC continue to send SMS asking people to submit their Aadhaar number to LPG distributor and link it with their bank account.
This is not only illegal but also can be construed as contempt of court. Under Article 141 of the Constitution of India, "the law declared by the Supreme Court shall be binding on all Courts within the territory of India." To declare means to announce opinion. Thus the law declared by the Supreme Court is the law of the land. It is a precedent for itself and for all Courts, Tribunals and authorities in India (Rupa Ashok Hurra vs. Ashok Hurra (2002) 4 SCC 388).
Following the interim order from the apex court, the Ministry of Petroleum and Natural Gas (MoP&NG) filed an ‘Application for clarification/ modification of order dated 23 September 2013. The Supreme Court, however, simply refused to do so. On 26th November, the Supreme Court said, its 23rd September order remains unmodified. Yet, HPCL, BPCL and IOC and their distributors continue to harass customers under the name of Aadhaar.
This is despite, the Nandan Nilekani-led Unique Identification Authority of India (UIDAI), maintaining its UID or Aadhaar is 'free and voluntary' and is meant for 'residents'.
The Supreme Court is likely to hear the matter on 28 January 2014 and take these ‘welfare agencies’ and the concerned ministries to task.
(This is the first part of two part series. The second part describes steps needed to be taken by customers harassed by the OMCs for LPG refill and subsidy)
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Has 'the right to identity' aka Aadhaar, as claimed by Rahul Gandhi, been bestowed on all the members of Congress Working Committee and AICC? It has been almost five years. When will these people claim their manufactured 'right to identity'?
Deliberations and speeches on 17 January 2014 at the All India Congress Committee (AICC) meeting revealed that leaders of Indian National Congress (Congress) and their donors are admittedly afraid of Comptroller Auditor General (CAG) and Central Vigilance Commission (CVC). Congress leader and prime minister Dr Manmohan Singh confessed that infrastructure projects are held up because CAG and CVC have raised questions. Notably, these projects include public information infrastructure which is the universal set of which unique identification (UID) and Aadhaar is a subset. In her speech at the AICC meeting, Sonia Gandhi, Congress president said, “The Aadhaar initiative, “Aap ka paisa, Aap ke haath”, has been launched in many districts. When fully operational, it will ensure the elimination of the corruption that people experience in their daily lives, especially in the delivery of subsidies, pensions, wages and other government benefits.”
This Seventy Seventh Report of the Parliamentary Standing Committee (PSC) on Finance reveals that there is reason for the promoters of Aadhaar to be afraid of CAG and CVC. The deals with the action taken by the government on the recommendations contained in the Sixty Ninth Report of the Committee (Fifteenth Lok Sabha) that was presented to Lok Sabha and laid in Rajya Sabha on 22 April 2013. The PSC report disapproves of the grievance redressal mechanism of the UIDAI. “The Committee is dissatisfied to note that the action taken reply is elusive on the number and nature of complaints received regarding issue of Aadhaar cards.”
Irregularities committed by the illegal UIDAI has been dealt with from page numbered 11 to 14 of this Report of the 31 member Parliamentary Committee on action taken by government on the recommendations contained in the Sixty Ninth Report of the Committee (Fifteenth Lok Sabha) on Demands for Grants (2013-14) of the Ministry of Planning.
The PSC notes that “out of 60 crore residents to be enrolled by UIDAI by March 2014...While the details regarding number of Aadhaar cards generated has been furnished, the reply (of the government) is silent as regard to the number of cards issued.” The report notes that replies indicating action taken on all the recommendations contained in the report were furnished by the government on 22 July 2013.
The PSC report observes, “the total budgetary allocations made for UIDAI since its inception up to Budget Estimates (BE) 2013-14 is Rs5,440.30 crore, out of which Rs2,820.30 crore has been utilised up to 31 March 2013 and the remaining amount of Rs2,620 crore has been allocated in BE 2013-14. The Ministry has informed that the average cost per card is estimated to range from Rs100 to Rs157. Taking the average cost per card to be Rs130, the total expenditure for issue of 60 crore cards is estimated to about Rs7,800 crore. Thus, the expected requirement of funds during 2013-14 is Rs4,979.70 crore, whereas only Rs2,620 crore has been kept for BE 2013-14, which is thus grossly inadequate. Given the tardy progress in enrollment/ generation of Aadhaar cards, being done without legislative approval, it is doubtful that UIDAI could achieve the targets envisaged during 2013-14. The committee is constrained to observe a disturbing approach in the budgetary exercise of the Ministry by fixing inflated targets without commensurate budgetary allocations. The committee would, therefore, expect the government to review enrolment progress/funds requirement and project realistic requirement of the funds after legislative approval.”
In his speech at the AICC meeting, Rahul Gandhi, Congress vice president claimed that “We have also created the right to identity so that your money reaches you directly. It is the largest anti-corruption platform that anyone has ever built. It will enable people to get their benefits and entitlements without paying bribe.”
The claim about creating “the right to identity” to Indians alluding to biometric identification is astoundingly bizarre. Disregarding public resistance to national ID cards for creating an inventory of citizens world over, Rahul Gandhi’s advocacy for it reveals his identity as a threat to civil and political rights. Will he explain as to why Great Britain has scrapped its ID card program and National Identification Registry? Why it has been abandoned in the US, Canada, China, France and Japan?
The factual inaccuracy of the proposition for the creation of “the right to identity can easily be understood if one examines as to whether or not Sonia Gandhi has been bestowed “the right to identity” or not? It may be recalled that although the attached electoral rolls (see the image below) revealed that Sonia Gandhi's name featured the electoral rolls of 1980, the fact was/is that she was not a citizen of India at least till 1983. She gained the identity of an Indian citizen quite later by naturalisation as provided for under Section 6 of the Citizenship Act, 1955 when Section 5 (c) was inserted in the Citizenship Act, 1955, through an amendment. The inserted section enabled her, as a foreign spouse marrying an Indian citizen to acquire Indian citizenship by registration, if he or she has resided in India for five years at the time of applying.
Section 5 of The Citizenship Act, 1955 provides for citizenship by registration which reads “Subject to the provisions of this section and such conditions and restrictions as may be prescribed, the prescribed authority may, on application made in this behalf, register as a citizen of India any person who is not already such citizen by virtue of the constitution or by virtue of any of the other provisions of this Act” and belongs to any of the categories like [persons who are, or have been, married to citizens of India and are ordinarily resident in India and have been so resident for five years immediately before making an application for registration]. Section 6 of The Citizenship Act provides for citizenship by naturalisation, which reads, “Where an application is made in the prescribed manner by any person of full age and capacity who is not a citizen of a country specified in the First Schedule for the grant of a certificate of naturalisation to him, the central government may, if satisfied that the applicant is qualified for naturalisation under the provisions of the Third Schedule, grant to him a certificate of naturalisation—provided that, if in the opinion of the central government, the applicant is a person who has rendered distinguished service to the cause of science, philosophy, art, literature, world peace or human progress generally, it may waive all or any of the conditions specified in the Third Schedule” of the Act.
The fact is that “right to identity” in India is conferred on Sonia Gandhi due to Section 5 of the Act that provides for citizenship by registration which was inserted in July 1987. It is reported that she became citizen of India on 30 April 1983 at the age of 37. She was born on 9 December 1946 in Lusiana, Veneto, Italy and was most likely an Italian citizen till then. Rahul Gandhi was born on 19 June 1970. The right to identity is conferred by Citizenship Act and not by Congress party as is being claimed.
The resolution adopted at the AICC meeting reads, “The Indian National Congress also believes that fighting corruption requires a fundamental transformation in our service delivery structures. The ‘Aapka Paisa, Aapke Haath' initiative of the UPA government, backed by the unique identity number Aadhaar, which will ensure that benefits of government schemes reach the people directly, on time and at their doorstep, eliminating corruption and leakages, is a major step in this direction. The Congress is deeply committed to ensuring the full rollout and effective implementation of this programme across the country, while ensuring that no one is excluded in the transition and no hardship is caused in the initiate stage.”
Has “the right to identity” been bestowed on all the members of Congress Working Committee and AICC? It has been almost five years. When will these people claim their manufactured “right to identity”?
In the book Identifying Citizens: ID Cards as Surveillance, by David Lyon of Queen's University, Ontario, Canada points out the role of cartels of identity card promoters in its proliferation.
The resolution states, “The Congress Party has, since the time of Pandit Nehru, championed the role of science and technology in India's development. Rajivji (Rajiv Gandhi) conceptualised and brought in the IT and telecom revolution to India. In the 21st century, the importance of knowledge and innovation in India's development is critical, and the Congress party is committed to making India the world's foremost knowledge economy of this century. The National Knowledge Network that connects all major universities and colleges in India with high-speed internet, the National Optical Fibre Network that is in the process of connecting all 250,000 Panchayats with broadband internet connectivity, the Aadhaar initiative, and several e-governance initiatives started by the Congress-led UPA government have set the foundations for this. We remain committed to accelerating the implementation of these initiatives to transform the lives of all Indians.”
It is good that the resolution remembered Nehru. In her book ‘The Pivot of Civilization’, Margaret Sanger, who visited and influenced Nehru, advocated coercion to prevent the "undeniably feeble-minded" from procreating. A Nehru headed sub-committee of the Congress resolved in 1938: "The State should follow a eugenic programme to make the race physically and mentally healthy.” (Eugenic (from Greek eu, meaning ‘good/well’, and -genēs, meaning ‘born’) is the belief and practice of improving the genetic quality of the human population.)
Opponents of eugenics like Abraham Myerso, neurologist and psychiatrist argued that “There are fine people springing from the most unlikely parents, and the finest parents may bring forth the wildest and most inadequate progeny." They rightly argued that is/eugenics was a pseudoscience fraught with racist agendas. Now Eugenics and its genetic determinism of identity stands discredited. Rahul Gandhi’s advocacy for “Right to Identity based on biometric data” is as regressive as the eugenic programmes.
In an official statement on 5 November 2013, All India Trinamool Congress (AITC) said, “What is shocking to citizens is that merely a month ago on 23 September 2013, the Supreme Court of India passed a verdict in response to a PIL seeking a stay on the implementation of the UID/Aadhaar Scheme, stating that enrollment under the Aadhaar scheme is completely voluntary and not necessary to avail essential government services. The UIDAI along with the oil PSUs and the government have filed a review petition in the Supreme Court on 15 October 2013 BUT the SC has NOT reviewed its earlier verdict yet. Hence, the current notification by the Petroleum Ministry is completely illegal and in total violation of the SC’s verdict.”
Trinamool Congress states, “It is necessary to review the history of the Aadhaar programme in the context of the card not having a mandate for universal coverage in India. Aadhaar/UID was set up in July 2009, but by late 2011 the Home Ministry expressed serious reservations that the enrolment process was not as foolproof as the National Population Registry (NPR), a mandatory register under the Home ministry, which enrolled citizens using a strict house-to-house canvassing method involving community verification. In December 2011, a 31-member Parliamentary Committee categorically rejected the National Identification Authority of India Bill, the proposed law under which UIDAI and Aadhaar were to function…In a country like ours where illiteracy is rampant and the average citizen is already burdened with different cards for different purposes- voter ID card, PAN card, BPL card – another card only serves to burden the common citizen.”
Lambasting Dr Manmohan Singh government, Trinamool Congress said, “This government is cracking joke after joke at the expense of the poor…The All India Trinamool Congress demands that the government fully complies with the verdict of the Supreme Court immediately and withdraws this notification.”
But under the influence of likes of Sam Pitroda who seems to have fathered the entire identification and tagging exercise even Trinamool Congress is steering clear demanding abandonment of the scheme in totality as has been done in several countries to safeguard civil rights.
It is reliably learnt that after West Bengal Assembly passed a resolution against biometric Aadhaar number, people are getting notices from the Office of the Registrar General and Census Commissioner (ORG&CC), Ministry of Home Affairs, Government of India through municipalities asking them to mandatorily enroll for biometric National Population Register (NPR) for Aadhaar number.
This exposes the deceptiveness involved in the entire exercise because as per ORG&CCI only 17 states and two Union Territories of India are to be covered under NPR and West Bengal is not included. The rest of the states and union territories are being covered under biometric Aadhaar. The fact is both the Centralised ID Repository (CIDR) of biometric Aadhaar number and NPR which also generates Aadhaar number is essentially the same because both the databases are being converged as per design.
The reply of Rajeev Shukla, Minister of State for Parliamentary Affairs and Planning in the Parliament in this regard is misleading. On 14 August 2013, he informed, “The purposes of UIDAI and NPR are different.”
Shukla added that steps have been taken with a view to eliminating overlap. These setups included enrolment by UIDAI has been limited to 60 crore residents in the States/UTs listed for the time being, when a person while enrolling for NPR indicates he/she is already enrolled for Aadhaar by UIDAI, the biometric data is not to be captured by NPR. Instead the Aadhaar number/enrolment number is recorded by NPR and the biometric data can be sourced from the UIDAI, Aadhaar numbers are generated for all residents who enroll with NPR thus obviating the need for such residents to re-enroll with the UIDAI and an inter-ministerial coordination committee has been constituted to ensure smooth implementation of enrolment by NPR and UIDAI. The reply given in response to questions by members of Parliament (MPs), Sajjan Singh Verma and Syed Shahnawaz Hussain is actually a confirmation of the inbuilt convergence and overlapping.
The States covered under NPR include:
(1) Arunachal Pradesh;
(6) Himachal Pradesh;
(7) Jammu & Kashmir;
(9) Madhya Pradesh;
(16) Uttar Pradesh;
The Union Territories covered under it include Dadra & Nagar Haveli and Chandigarh.
In the meanwhile, it has been reported that the Congress Core Committee at the AICC meeting has recommended that Aadhaar should not be made mandatory for LPG subsidy. Is it acting compliance with the recommendations of the Parliamentary Committee “particularly in the light of recent judgement of the Supreme Court mentioning that no person should suffer for not possessing the Aadhaar card”? The government must in the meantime issue instructions to state governments and to all other authorities that it should not be made mandatory for any purpose. The fact is that Congress and most political parties who are avoiding to take a clear political position demanding scrapping of the biometric identification exercise are speaking with forked tongue. Hasn’t such stance been engineered under influence of donations to the tune of 7.5 % of annual profit of the companies under the new Companies Act, 2013?
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(Gopal Krishna is member of Citizens Forum for Civil Liberties (CFCL), which is campaigning against surveillance technologies since 2010)