Aadhaar for students: Maharashtra govt openly flouts Supreme Court order

The Supreme Court directed union as well all state government not to make Aadhaar mandatory. Yet, Maharashtra's Education Department is enforcing Aadhaar registration for all students below 14 

 

Despite a clear direction from the Supreme Court and statement from the Narendra Modi-led union government for not making Aadhaar mandatory, the Maharashtra government is openly flouting both. Without knowing that biometrics, especially of children is most susceptible to undergo change over years, the Education Department headed by Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP)’s Vinod Tawde is forcing Aadhaar enrolment for all students across the state.
 
According to a report from Times of India, "Aadhaar will be compulsory for school students and they will have to apply for it by 26th June. It will be linked with children's admission numbers and government benefits they are entitled to. Over 1 crore children in the state up to 14 years of age will be brought under Aadhaar."
 
The Maharashtra government issued a resolution (GR) (201504211358081421) on 21st April that makes it mandatory for all students up to 14 years of age in the state to register for an Aadhaar number and connect it with their school admission number. The district collector, as well as district education officer, is asked to fully implement this scheme before 26th June and submit a report. What the Education Department has forgotten is that at present majority of schools in the state are having summer vacations and would reopen only in second or third week of June.
 
Quoting sources, the newspaper report says, “…the Unique Identification Authority of India (UIDAI), through the state government, has directed the state's school education and women and child welfare departments to employ agencies to bring the children under Aadhaar, instead of deploying teaching staff. But the government wants school staff to create maximum awareness among students and ensure their registration quickly. It also wants these departments to take up a massive public campaign.”
 
This order from the Devendra Fadnavis-led Maharashtra government is completely in contrast with the decision of the Supreme Court. On 16 March 2015, a Bench of Justices J Chelameswar, SA Bobde and C Nagappan directed the central and state governments not to insist on possessing Aadhaar for availing benefits under the various social security schemes as it reiterated an order it passed in September 2013.
 
The apex court did not appear appreciative when Solicitor General Ranjit Kumar submitted that some states were not abiding by the court order.
 
"It is your duty to ensure our orders are followed. You can't say states are not following our order," the Bench told him, stressing it was incumbent upon the central government to ensure that the states complied with the apex court's order.
 
Directing the next hearing of the matter in the second week of July and noting the presence of the centre and all the states, the court said: "We expect all to scrupulously adhere to our order dated 23 September 2013."
 
Last month, in a written reply to Lok Sabha, Planning Minister Rao Inderjit Singh said, the government was not considering any proposal to make it mandatory for citizens to get Aadhaar card issued by the UIDAI. “Various ministries, departments and agencies of Centre and states that implement different schemes/ programmes involving provisions of benefits or services are encouraged to leverage Aadhaar for elimination of fakes and duplicates from the list of beneficiaries, increasing efficiency of implementation and achieving higher levels of transparency in operations. In doing so it has to be ensured that no eligible person suffers, or is denied any benefit or service, merely for the lack of an Aadhaar," the minister had said.
 
Earlier too in March 2014, the Supreme Court directed the union government to withdraw all orders making Aadhaar or the unique identification (UID) number mandatory for residents.

 

Coming back to the issue of biometrics related with Aadhaar, it is a well-known fact that human body parts like fingerprint, iris, voice age, wither and decay with the passage of time. Is there a biological material in the human body that constitutes biometric data, which is immortal, ageless and permanent? 
 
Besides working conditions, humidity, temperature and lighting conditions also impact the quality of biological material used for generating biometric data. Both Aadhaar and NPR are based on the unscientific and questionable assumption that there are parts of human body likes fingerprint, iris, voice etc” that does not age, wither and decay with the passage of time.
 
Those who support Aadhaar and NPR seem to display unscientific temper by implication. A report “Biometric Recognition: Challenges and Opportunities” of the National Research Council, USA published on 24 September 2010 concluded that the current state of biometrics is ‘inherently fallible’. That is also one of the findings of a five-year study. This study was jointly commissioned by the CIA, the US Department of Homeland Security and the Defence Advanced Research Projects Agency.
 
There is a need for the Parliament, Supreme Court, state legislatures and High Courts to examine whether or not biometrics provides an established way of fixing identity of Indians. 
 
With the Maharashtra government openly flouting directions from the Supreme Court, it is high time the apex court take suo moto action against those responsible, be it the Education Minister or other babus.
 

 

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COMMENTS

Hemant

4 years ago

Recently person from election commission came & inform our society people that get your Aadhar Card,else you will not be allowed to vote in election.When contacted their office ,they said what can we do ,we are getting such orders from our seniors.Really sic state of affairs.

Retrieving Lost Aadhaar number: Impossible test for the poor
Once enrolled, a Kalawati cannot surrender or cancel her Aadhaar. To retrieve her lost Aadhaar letter or number, the poor lady would have to go through a gruelling process of providing enough details about herself to match 10 fields in the UIDAI database!
 
The Unique Identification Authority of India (UIDAI), the de-facto agency to turn every resident into a number, has admitted that retrieving a lost Aadhaar number is not without enormous pains for the holder, especially if she is from the poorer sections of the society. According to media reports, UIDAI has devised a new method, under which a person can put his biometrics and the system would then keep prompting for more demographic details till the server can zero down to 10 possible matches.
 
"During the entire process, none of the details of the Aadhaar holders will be shown to the person or the operator till the time an exact match has been found. This has been done keeping in mind the design of the Aadhaar project, where the system doesn’t reveal any information about the resident and only tries to authenticate the identity replying with a yes or no," a report from Business Standard says quoting an official from UIDAI.
 
On paper, this looks good, but would work for those who have knowledge of their own data that was filled in while registering for the unique identification (UID) number. Most of the poor people, who acquired the Aadhaar number, falling prey to UIDAI propaganda, would, however find it very difficult to retrieve their UID number, once it is lost.
 
According to Dr Anupam Saraph, who is a Professor, Future Designer, former governance and IT advisor to Goa’s former Chief Minister Manohar Parrikar, the process described by the official is an admission that UIDAI's biometrics is not sufficient to prove identity.
 
"The process described by the UIDAI spokesperson is an admission on part of the UIDAI that biometrics is not sufficient to prove identity. If it did, they should have been able to retrieve the unique ID for the person. There should have been no requirements for asking even a single question. It is strange that they do not trust anyone's eyes to compare the person with a photograph that their database should be having!" he said.
 
A government official told the newspaper that as a person can only enrol for Aadhaar once, there needed to be a mechanism to retrace the number in case the person has misplaced all possible links to it. “Enrolling again is not an option, as the system automatically rejects biometric details that have been registered once,” he said.
 
Dr Saraph, however, feels that there should a simple method to help the person to retrieve her lost Aadhaar number. He said, "The simplest way to replace a lost ID is to require an 'ID Lost Form' to be filled up and retrieve the person’s number based on demographic information. As a security measure, it (the letter containing Aadhaar number and other details) should not be handed over in person but be mailed through the postal service. As a measure of safety, duplicate numbers would need to be different as well as recognisable as duplicate and the original would need to be cancelled. A database of cancelled ID's would be available for query to those who rely on the ID."
 
Remember PV Narayanan from Kerala who enrolled and successfully received two Aadhaar numbers? According to a report in Matrubhoomi, a Kerala-based newspaper, PV Narayanan, a resident of Panatthadi panchayat received two Aadhaar numbers: 548780623023 and 356459270677. The names on both these letters issued by UIDAI were same, with slight different photos. Narayanan probably may have registered at two places or centres. But, surprisingly, his fingerprints apparently passed the so-called ‘robust’ de-duplication test of UIDAI. Since Aadhaar includes an iris scan, this too seems to have been missed. (http://www.moneylife.in/article/aadhaar-de-duplication-myth-busted-any-answers-mr-nilekani/34884.html)
 
Coming back to the retrieval of lost Aadhaar number or letter, all the claims of UIDAI are fine in the case of individuals. But what about those Aadhaar numbers or letters lost by the UIDAI or other government agencies themselves? And how about thousands of Aadhaar letters found in garbage and near railway tracks?
 
"How can information lost by the government be replaced without re-enrolment? How can they even tell whose information they lost? You may recall the Government of Maharashtra had lost lakhs of IDs two years ago," Dr Saraph said.
 
In March 2013, hundreds of Aadhaar letters duly signed and ready to be delivered to the concerned people have been found dumped in a heap of garbage at Shanti Nagar area in Nagpur. There have been reports of applicants being issued the Aadhaar numbers ‘twice’ over, lakhs of Aadhaar number letters being ‘misplaced’ and even being ‘issued to a dog, a chair and a tree!’
 
In addition, there is no scope for the Aadhaar number holder to cancel her registration. Replying to a Right to Information (RTI) query filed by CJ Karira, co-convenor of India Against Corruption (IAC), the UIDAI admitted that once allotted, one can never cancel the Aadhaar number. The Central Information Commission (CIC) in an order observed: “Two of the queries related to the procedure by which a UID number holder could surrender his UID number and card and get his data erased from the data base of the UIDAI. The CPIO informed the Appellant vide his letter dated 13th and 16 January 2014 that as on date, there was no such procedure adopted by the UIDAI to delete the UID number from the UID database."
 
So while there is no way the poor Kalawati can surrender her Aadhaar number, she has to go through an impossible process to retrieve her lost UID. 
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COMMENTS

CHILUKURI K R L RAO

4 years ago

I have seen people from rural background who have lost the enrolment receipt and have not received Aadhaar struggle to get it. It seems there is no easy procedure in such cases. There should some permanent points of service like e-Seva centres etc., which have a reasonable presence across the country, to take care of these issues.

REPLY

vishal

In Reply to CHILUKURI K R L RAO 4 years ago

It is better to decentralise this scheme from Government agencies. My wife took an auto and went & registered for a aadhar card. It was denied on the grounds of some technical mistake committed by the staff. It is more than a year. Still she is struggling to get a aadhar card.

Govind Agrawal

4 years ago

Nice article. I appreciate author for getting in to details, and doing it technically correct. But, believe me, Biometric Architecture behind UIDAI is reasonably strong, and planned thoroughly.

Aadhaar: Supreme Court makes RBI a party in the case

In a PIL, Col (retd) Mathew Thomas argued that the RBI was asking for Aadhaar number to open bank accounts and KYC documents contrary to interim decision by the Supreme Court for not making the UID mandatory

 

The Supreme Court on Friday made the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) a party in a plea challenging the validity of the Aadhaar scheme through which the government intends to issue a unique identity number to all residents in the country, says a report.  
 
According to report from the Mint, a bench headed by chief justice HL Dattu said the case will be heard by a bench constituted by him as the issue of Aadhaar was important.
 
Col (retd) Mathew Thomas, a former defence services officer and missile scientist turned civic activist had filed the plea before the apex court. Col (retd) Thomas, as per the news report had claimed that RBI was asking for the Aadhaar number to open bank accounts and know-your-customer documents. 
 
The PIL had relied on an earlier interim order of the apex court, which had said that the Aadhaar number could not be a mandatory requirement in availing of services, the report says.
 
Earlier this month, the Supreme Court had asked the Narendra Modi government to spell out its stand on Aadhaar and whether it wants to continue with the ambitious programme initiated by its predecessor for giving unique identification (UID) number to every resident across the country. 
 
During the hearing, Senior advocate Gopal Subramaniam, appearing for Col (retd) Thomas, had said that similar schemes for UID have already been scrapped by many countries and the Centre should be directed to destroy all data collected by it under the scheme. 
 
"Even illegal migrants in country are getting Aadhaar card, enabling them to avail government services which are meant only for citizens of India and not for mere residents. The avowed objectives of UID scheme are itself farcical and the entire exercise is nothing but colossal waste of public money and exposes India's vulnerabilities," he was quoted in a news report.
 

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COMMENTS

MG Warrier

4 years ago

May be, as is being done in the case of about 100 Central Schemes under implementation, there is a case for reviewing or revisiting many schemes like AADHAAR, NPS and Jan Dhan Yojana which were introduced without adequate homework. Huge amount of public resources is being deployed in such schemes without corresponding benefit and sometimes adding to the agony of the target group. Moneylife has earlier covered NPS and AADHAAR focusing their in-built inadequacies in several articles/comments(some of them by me also).

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