Parliamentary panel rejects UID Bill
Moneylife Digital Team 08 December 2011

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.

1 decade 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.
Replied to Prabal comment 1 decade 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.
Replied to rprtr comment 1 decade 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.
1 decade 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
1 decade 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
1 decade 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.
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