UIDAI reverts to its mandate of providing only Aadhaar numbers
Moneylife Digital Team 04 November 2011

The Nandan Nilekani-led UIDAI wanted to issue Aadhaar cards instead of the laminated letter mentioning the UID number. However, all of a sudden, it has cancelled its tender issued for printing of Aadhaar cards without giving any reason

The Unique Identification Authority of India (UIDAI), which is on a high for tagging residents under its ambitious unique ID (UID) project Aadhaar, has been compelled to stick with its mandate and not venture out of its marked territory. The UIDAI, led by Nandan Nilekani, has cancelled its tender for printing of Aadhaar cards within a month of issuing it, without giving any reason.

Earlier, on 4th October, the UIDAI issued a tender, (F. No. 14014/07/2011-Logistics) inviting bids for printing and delivery of Aadhaar cards. The notice said, "As of now, UID number is being delivered to the resident in the form of a laminated letter through post. Now the GoI (Govt of India) has decided to deliver the UID/Aadhaar number in the form of an Aadhaar Card. This Request for Proposal document is intended to invite bids from reputed and reliable firms for undertaking the work of Printing of the Aadhaar Card and delivering that card to the designated Post Offices across India. The data for the preparation of Cards will be provided by the UIDAI in electronic form."

The UIDAI launched the Aadhaar scheme in September last year and the authority is expected to issue two crore UID (12-digit unique) numbers by end-March 2012. So far the UIDAI has generated 5.96 crore Aadhaar numbers and more than one crore residents have enrolled themselves in the system across the country.

Issuing any identification card under the Aadhaar scheme was never the mandate of UIDAI. Here is what the site of the Authority says: "UIDAI has been created as an attached office under the Planning Commission. Its role is to develop and implement the necessary institutional, technical and legal infrastructure to issue unique identity numbers to Indian residents."

However, the tender inviting notice shows that the Authority is acting on the decision taken by the government. Currently, the UIDAI is under heavy criticism for concerns like privacy issues, use of biometrics and the incentives being paid for enrolling more residents. Many voices have been raised against the forceful implementation of the UID project, with most objections focused on concerns over privacy. The incentive issue will certainly push government employees to enrol more residents by any means, when they don't know what Aadhaar is and how it would affect their lives.

While some activists, like Advocate Kamayani Bali Mahabal had started petitioning the Prime Minister, others like VK Somasekhar, founder-trustee of Grahak Shakti and Col (Retd.) Thomas Mathew of Citizens' Action Forum have sent legal notices to UIDAI and the Planning Commission questioning their “illegal” activities in implementing the UID project, or Aadhaar, without any legal authority to do so.

The National Identification Authority of India (NIA) Bill is still pending before Parliament. The Bill seeks to constitute a statutory authority and lay down its powers and functions, besides deciding the framework to issue the UID or Aadhaar numbers. Yet, the Indian government and UIDAI have gone about implementing the scheme and issuing Aadhaar numbers without any Constitutional validity as yet.

According to an expert, the government is the Executive not empowered by the Constitution to implement projects spending public money without legislative sanction. "In the case of UIDAI, while the Executive may appoint anyone to head it, the government is legally constrained from implementing the project and issuing Aadhaar numbers," the expert said.

The NIA Bill is under the consideration of the Parliamentary Standing Committee on Finance, headed by former finance minister Yashwant Sinha and has members from across the political spectrum.

1 decade ago
A printed laminated card will be a good thing for applicant because we can easily forget this 12 digit number of aadhaar. But may be UIDAI be not capable it to provide to the large population of India.
1 decade ago
Why did the jokers in Government embark on a Rupee1000000000000 project (a reported estimate ) without even a parliamentary debate and without educating the general public about its need.
Mohan Naik
1 decade ago
Why did these jokers like Kamayani Bali Mahabal not talk of privacy and other issues when fingerprints, irises etc were capture for several other projects like MNREGA, RSBY and several other Ration Card project before Unique ID?
Replied to Mohan Naik comment 1 decade ago
May I ask where were you at that time? Also try to understand the difference between collecting biometric data of thousands of gullible people and then feeding it to for profit organisations, is bigger CRIME. Nobody, like MNREGA, RSBY and Ration Card project shared or sold your bloody data to money seeking hunters.
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