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The centre and state governments must not insist on Aadhaar from citizens before providing essential services, the apex court ruled
In a significant development, the Supreme Court on Monday has ruled that Aadhaar or the unique identification (UID) number, the United Progressive Alliance (UPA)'s ambitious scheme, is not mandatory to avail essential services from the government.
Various state governments have been insisting on making Aadhaar compulsory for a range of formalities, including marriage registration, disbursal of salaries and provident fund among other public services.
While hearing a public interest litigation (PIL) filed by retired Karnataka High Court judge Justice KS Puttaswamy and advocate Parvesh Khanna questioning the legal sanctity of Aadhaar, the apex court said, "The centre and state governments must not insist on Aadhaar from citizens before providing them essential services."
A Bench of Justices BS Chauhan and SA Bobde also directed central and the state governments not to issue the Aadhaar to illegal immigrants.
While trashing the Centre's claim of Rs50,000 crore expenses on the Unique Identification Authority of India (UIDAI) project, the Bench said that Aadhaar number is not necessary for important services.
In the petition, Justice Puttaswamy had sought an immediate stay on the implementation of the UID scheme. He said, "The scheme is complete infraction of Fundamental Rights under Articles 14 (right to equality) and 21 (right to life and liberty). The government claims that the scheme is voluntary but it is not so. Aadhaar is being made mandatory for purposes like registration of marriages and others. Maharashtra government has recently said no marriage will be registered if parties don't have Aadhaar cards."
The petitioner asserted that the issue required a meticulous judicial examination by the Bench since it raised questions not only over the government's authority to implement the scheme, but also highlighted the perils of the manner of its implementation.
The Bench accepted his arguments and agreed to hear his contentions on the interim stay as well on while asking the centre and state governments to file their replies.
In its reply, the Centre had earlier claimed that for an Aadhaar card, consent of an individual was indispensable and hence it was a voluntary project, with an objective to promote inclusion and benefits of the marginalised sections of the society that has no formal identity proof.
In July, replying to an un-starred question in the Lok Sabha on 8 May 2013, Rajiv Shukla, minister of state for parliamentary affairs and planning said, "Aadhaar card is not mandatory to avail subsidized facilities being offered by the Government like LPG cylinders, admission in private aided schools, opening a savings account etc."
Earlier in February, Employees' Provident Fund Organisation (EPFO) had said that looking at the difficulties in enrolment, it has decided not to make the UID or Aadhaar number mandatory for its over five crore members.
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According to India Against Corruption-IAC, the plot of land formerly owned by telecom department in Delhi which is now worth Rs900 crore was allotted to UIDAI’s headquarter at throwaway price by changing the land use plan
The Delhi Development Authority’s statutory board of enquiry has accepted a prayer by India Against Corruption (IAC) to scrap change of land use (CLU) for the headquarter of Unique Identification Authority of India (UIDAI). Sarbajit Roy, the national convenor of IAC, had alleged that the valuable piece of land in New Delhi, worth Rs900 crore, was leased to Nandan Nilekani-led UIDAI at throwaway price using the CLU.
“After IAC highlighted that the land was a valuable piece of land being leased off for a pittance, it seems the DDA summoned the land allotting agency (L&DO). It also transpires that the possession of the land (formerly with the Department of Telecom-DoT) is now with Bharat Sanchar Nigam Ltd (BSNL). However, another state-run unit Mahanagar Telecom Nigam Ltd (MTNL) has laid claims over the land as it is in Delhi,” Mr Roy said.
The land was transferred to UIDAI at throwaway price due to the dispute between BSNL and MTNL, which is pending before the Delhi High Court, Mr Roy added.
At present UIDAI functions from an office in Jeevan Bharti Building in New Delhi’s Connaught Circus.
According to the petition filed by Mr Roy, the land allotted by the MUD to UIDAI was misinterpreted under Section 11 A of the Delhi Development Act. He said, “Several pieces of land meant for public or semi-public use have been engulfed by some ‘organisations’ and converted to government offices, the most brazen example has been the ‘Appu Ghar’.”
Mr Roy repeatedly mentioned that UIDAI is neither an ‘authority’ nor an institution set up by the law passed in Parliament and it operates on the basis of an executive notification. As per the notification, the Planning Commission was to be the nodal agency “for providing logistics, planning and budgetary support” and to “provide initial office and IT infrastructure”.
We have sent an email to officials of UIDAI and would incorporate their response, if any, in the story.
Here is the text of IAC's complaint alleging the UIDAI has been transferred prime public land in Central Delhi at throwaway rates in conjunction with Delhi's land mafia…
1) There is no reference to the specific site / land use of the modification in the present Master Plan, i.e. the so-called MPD-2021, or at least I am unable to find it in the MPD-2021 land-use plan available on the UDM website.
2) The public notice speaks of modifying the Zonal Development Plan for Zone-D. I say there is no such plan in existence. To the best of my knowledge, the ZDP-2021 for Zone-D is not in existence. The last I heard was that a known incompetent private planner, some Mr Ribiero or suchlike, had drafted up such a ZDP for the NDMC and DUAC to suit the land mafia, but it was so patently atrocious and self serving that it is yet to see the light of day. So please show me the referred ZDP-2021 for Zone-D as I am yet to see it. It is pertinent that I am a long time resident of Zone D which, unlike every other planning zone, has no ZDP and I fail to see why I am being discriminated against in planning issues.
3) I object that the lack of an up-do-date ZDP for Zone-D is allowing some organisations to swallow land notified for public and semi-public use and convert them into govt offices by misuse of section 11A. The most blatant such example being APPU GHAR which was swallowed by Supreme Court and DMRC, and in which all the public objections opposing the CLU were CORRUPTLY ignored by DDA. The SC used the land to sell to its advocates to set up private law chambers and the DMRC put up a tall commercial building to house some Railway Freight Corporation.
4) I object that there is no such "authority" known as UIDAI. The law to set it up is yet to be passed by Parliament, and the UIDAI is functioning, illegally, on the basis of an EGOM resolution whereby a private industrialist Shri Nandan Nilekani of INFOSYS was secretly appointed its Chairman without following due process and given the status of a Union Minister. I have established this under RTI, as I was the person who brought UIDAI within ambit of RTI as an extension of the Planning Commission. It is pertinent that when the Planning Commission received a copy of the CIC order in my case, they immediately asked Mr. Nilenkani and his team to vacate their offices within Planning Commission building within 48 hours. UIDAI then had to hire offices in Jeevan Bharati Building virtually overnight. The JPC (Joint Parliamentary Committee) has also objected to the UIDAI and said it is a useless body which should be scrapped.
5) It is thus clear that after I exposed UIDAI as being a fraudy outfit, they have managed to CORRUPTLY acquire a vacant plot of land in 2010-11 which is the subject of this CLU. It needs a CBI / CAG investigation as to who all in the Ministry of Urban Development or it's offices like L&DO / DDA etc. transferred the land which was Public/Semi-Public use in nature. It needs to be seen if the plot was acquired on commercial rates or it was a concessional allocation. The entire land acquisition / transfer file should be provided to objectors. There must be a CBI/CAG/ACB investigation into the modus operandi that the plot is acquired at a cheap rate and then the land mafia upgrades it to commercial use (UIDAI is a semi-PRIVATE concern) by bribing MUD officers and ministers of UPA govt. It is pertinent that Infosys has acquired a 1,000 sq yard plot in Vasant Vihar (Zone-F) last year for about Rs105 crore, so the land rate for a prime plot in Zone D should not be less than Rs20 lakhs per sq yard or about Rs900 crore for a 4,40 sq yard plot.
6) This CLU change will have significant alterations in local / site population density. Hence the CLU must be considered by the Central Government u/s 11A(2) only. The DDA has no role to play other than issuing the statutory notice. Members of the Authority have no role to play either, and their participation in any Board of Enquiry and Hearing is a breach of statutory provision, which shall be reported to the CBI and the ACB.
7) The UIDAI already has a massive Headquarter at Bangalore / Karnataka. I seem to recall that the ZDP/ MP2021 and the NCR plans not only mandate that no new Government offices are to come up in Delhi, but also that the existing ones are to shift out of Delhi. Therefore what kind of precedent is being set by such CORRUPT CLU public notices?
8) Please take clear notice that the citizens could not object when the DDA approved numerous spot CLUs to oblige the Delhi High Court and the Supreme Court of India to grab land all over Delhi to accommodate their advocate's chambers only because their judges are a law unto to themselves under the Judges Inquiry Act and the SC judgments. However, for such corrupt CLUs like the instant one, DDA officers shall and will be reported to the CBI/CAG/ACB if they persist in rolling over to approve perverse CLUs to grossly favour semi-private irregular operators like UIDAI who are being facilitated to grab PUBLIC land at throwaway prices.
9) Not only is UIDAI so confident that their CLU will be approved, they have already conducted a design competition for their building - the winning bid for which seems to have a hugely tall structure well over the 15 meter height limit. It is thus clear that UIDAI / land mafia have advance information about impending Master Plan changes to allow this. This is also definitely a matter which falls for the CBI etc. to investigate considering that the sub-zone (which may be D4 or D5) is a low profile zone with many heritage structures. [http://www.architizer.com/en_us/projects/view/uidai-headquarters-at-delhi/40953/#.UdE7qpxR7Dw]
Now, you need not have an Aadhaar number to avail any benefits from Employee Provident Fund Organisation (EPFO). Other than EPFO, schemes under ESIC have also been excluded from Centre’s direct benefit transfer (DBT) programme. Since Aadhaar has been introduced for distributing subsidies and grants, it would not be applicable to any provident fund schemes. Earlier, EPFO had asked its field officers to ensure that they collect the Aadhaar number of members joining on or after 1 March 2013 and those of existing members by 30 June 2013. EPFO had also decided to seek the Aadhaar numbers of its pensioners through their banks. According to the new notification, if the member does not have an Aadhaar number, the employer can issue him an enrolment ID as per the guidelines of EPFO which would be converted into an Aadhaar number later.