Parliamentary panel rejects UID Bill

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.

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    COMMENTS

    Prabal

    9 years ago

    I think sometimes we need ruthless people to do something. If we have UID how can we have bogus voters, how can we have dummy workers in PSUs? So let it continue. Let 5566 crores be taken away in the form of dummy wages but we should not spend 556 croes. USA has a system which helps them to identify anybody. Problem is we want to remain in prehistoric era. Nothing suits us.

    REPLY

    rprtr

    In Reply to Prabal 9 years ago

    USA has Social Security numbers but has also Social Security Benefits.What can the Indian Govt offer its citizens ? Those who cheat will cheat in spite of sny number and all numbers, whether SSN or Aadhaar. A strong Ombudsman or Lokpal is a better solution for that kind of illnesses.

    H

    In Reply to rprtr 9 years ago

    There are lot of Govt offers but one of the biggest problem is - it does not reach the person. I agree with Prabal we need UID first and then we can talk how to integrate Govt benefits & give directly to its citizens. My only concern is - if govt is able to secure the data as western countries are.

    rprtr

    9 years ago

    The Rs.556 crores and more already spent on this scam scheme, which did not even a get parliamentary debate, must be forced to return by the people who initiated, promoted the scheme and did the fleecing. What on earth does the scheme promise every citizen?

    A Rajaraman

    9 years ago

    This government is most undemocratic it first starts something and then goes to the parliament for discussion. What was the hurry in starting a project without discussion and passing the bill in parliament. Are we still a democracy. This government did the same with nuclear treaty with USA, the FDI issue and so many other issues. Why can't the UPA talk to the opposition and start any project.
    I seems the whole bunch of ministers are acting like school boys out to take credit for every issue and claim me first.
    sadly our democratic nation and its citizens are suffering.

    Narendra Doshi

    9 years ago

    Where was the HURRY to make this CURRY when in several other important issues STILL drag on without a strong political will??
    All the same, at least further money wastage will get avoided.
    Unfortunately, my family is amongst those who got this done.

    Soon an export policy for Indian wine

    Looking at the popularity of Indian food overseas, wine makers feel that there is huge potential for domestic wine across the globe

    In order to boost wine sales overseas, the Indian government is planning to formulate an export policy to make them at par with its global peers. All India Wine Producers’ Association (AIWPA), along with Agricultural and Processed Food Products Export Development Authority (APEDA) are working together to formulate a scheme to increase exports of India made wines.
     
    Jagdish Holkar, president, AIWPA, told Moneylife that “There is an urgent need to understand the value of Indian wines and to promote it. We have received good response from the Commerce Ministry. Currently we are looking into various factors relating to wine export and the wine industry. After that we will meet with other stake holders and then prepare a final draft.”
     
    The AIWPA and APEDA have identified few countries where Indian wine can be promoted in big way. They are also emphasising on developing a bilateral trade with various nations with initiatives such as wine tasting programmes.
     
    “We will have discussion with Ambassadors of around 20-25 nations. Various Secretariats and Ministries of the Indian Government will also be consulted during the process. Apart from this, around 2-3 potential buyers from each of these countries will also be invited and we would facilitate some business to business meeting,” said Mr Holkar.

    The countries identified for promotion of Indian wines, include the US, UK, Germany, Germany, Argentina, Brazil, Chile, South Africa, Japan, Korea and Singapore among others.
     
    Over the years, Indian food has become popular across the world. Especially in the UK, the Chicken Tikka Masala, a popular Indian dish, is found to be most favoured dish and often is called as ‘a true British national dish’. Mr Holkar feels that the popularity of Indian food would help domestic wines to gain popularity across the world, provided they promote and export it overseas.

    In the 1980s and 1990s, a revival in the Indian wine industry took place as international influences and the growing middle class increased started increasing demand for the beverage. By the turn of the 21st century, demand was increasing at a rate of 20-30% a year.

    The overall consumption of wines in India is about 400,000 cases a year of which 85 percent are table wines and the remaining are the expensive varieties. Out of the 400,000 cases, about 50,000 cases are imported from various sources. According to a report by Associated Chambers of Commerce and Industry of India (Assocham), 8% of the wine demand in India is accounted for by major cities of Delhi, Mumbai, Chennai, Kolkata, Pune and Bangalore.

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    Activists file potential class action suit against UIDAI

    Two activists had filed a potential class action suit against UIDAI requesting the Bangalore City Civil Judge to declare the Aadhaar scheme as illegal

    Bengaluru-based Col (Retd.) Mathew Thomas of Citizens' Action Forum and VK Somasekhar, founder-trustee of Grahak Shakti have filed a potential class action suit against the Unique Identification Authority of India (UIDAI). In the petition, both the activists requested the Bangalore City Civil Judge to declare Aadhaar scheme as illegal, stop enrolment in the scheme and grant injuction against entering into any contracts binding the government and expending taxpayers money.

    According to the petition, the UIDAI chairman has entered into number of agreements, contracts, and memorandum of understanding (MOUs) with both Indian and international private companies, as an authority of the Government of India, without the sanction of law.

    In addition, the National Identification Authority of India Bill (NAI Bill), the proposed law on Aadhaar, is worded in such a way that regularises all the activities of the chairman from the day it was constituted as an authority by the Union government and deputy chairperson of the Planning Commission. "The Bill seeks to provide ex-post-facto blanket approval of all such acts of the first defendant (UIDAI chairman). It is respectfully submitted that first defendant on the basis of such a draft bill is continuing with the implementation of the Aadhaar scheme in entire India. It is respectfully submitted that the same is illegal," the petition said.

    It said, the UIDAI chairman has also entered into contracts with 209 companies, organizations, societies as Enrolling Agencies by saying that Aadhaar is a high technology project. However, it has selected number of organizations, companies, societies, whose capacity and qualifications are doubtful, it said.
    According to the petition, an organisation that is an education society in rural Andhra Pradesh secures rights of enrolling agency for entire state of Kerala and Tamil Nadu. The basis on which, the agency was granted the license for enrolling people of these states is still unknown and raises questions on the criteria employed by the first defendant for empanelling private companies as enrolling agencies. Similar is the case of a Tea Estate Company being licensed as an enrolling agency that has been granted enrolling job in entire state of Assam, it said.

    Some of the enrolling agencies have already sub contracted the work, allegedly against the rules of the first defendant, which prohibit sub-contracting of the work, the petition said. "One of the enrolling agencies, Alankit Financial Services sub-contracted enrolling at Bangalore to another private company, ID Global Technology Solutions. The latter is alleged to have indulged in franchising enrolling business to many other private companies. ID Global Technology Solutions is alleged to have been taking deposits of Rs2.5 Lakh from the franchisees. When the first defendant was confronted by the said fraud, it has stated that it was not aware of this illegal activity," said Col (Retd.) Thomas and Mr Somasekhar.
     
    They alleged that the entire process of enrolling was done by a sub-contracting agency in Mysore district. There were instances where the agency and its employees in collusion with other persons have been issuing fake Aadhaar numbers to those who can pay at Mysore. The same was reported in a Kannada television channel known as TV9.

    According to the petition, there is urgency in filing the suit as the defendants (UIDAI, Union Govt, and Deputy Chairman, Planning Commission) intend to complete major part of the Aadhaar enrolment before the matter is decided by the Standing Committee on Finance of the Parliament 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.
     

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    COMMENTS

    Prassoon Suryadas

    9 years ago

    Very well done. This 15000 crore scam should be stopped immediately

    rprtr

    9 years ago

    The Aadhar seems to be a project to pocket public money with no benefits to majority of citizens. Will there be unemployment or social security benefits? There has been hardly any enlightening of the general public as to how it will benefit them.

    REPLY

    R Nandy

    In Reply to rprtr 9 years ago

    I was going through the UID documentation and was not able to find any strong reason as to go for a new numbering system considering that the already exisiting IT PAN(Permananet Account Number) could have done the same job comfortably.

    In fact the Finance Ministry had decided to add biometric data to the PAN data base to plug leakages in terms of bogus cards.The PAN is already being used by crores of people.This number could as well have been used by other govt departments for delivering some other set of services.

    The UID Authority will be paying Rs 50 for every new enrollment to the registrars.This money could have been saved for a few crore people,if PAN was used.

    I am sure they would have done a feasibility study considering that Nilekani is heading the project.But,the govt(quasi govt) agencies more often that not have embarked on some redundant projects to shelve it later.The MAPIN project comes to mind.This was mandated for all mutual fund holders.Whereas PAN could have been used for the same.At the last moment MAPIN was scrapped and PAN was used in its place.The Voter ID card is one other redundant project.The mutual fund KYC(Know your Costomer) is another bogus policy being implemented.People can easily be tracket using PAN.

    Secondly,the haphazard manner in which the data is being collected in the post offices (was a witness in one) there might be identity theft issues with the address ,ID proof being collected misused to open fake bank account for illegal activities.

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