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Shishir Gupta, Hindustan Times
New Delhi, December 08, 2011
The Nandan Nilekani-headed Unique Identification Authority of India (UIDAI) has approached the Union cabinet for either a go-ahead to amend the law so that the Registrar General of India (RGI) accepts the bio-metric data collected by the Authority or the National Population Register (NPR) exercise under RGI be completed without capturing bio-metric data to avoid duplication.

The UIDAI wants the cabinet to allow Aadhaar enrolments beyond the mandated 20 crore citizens.

However, home minister P Chidambaram has shot down both proposals contained in the circulated cabinet note in writing and wants non-RGI registrars, used by UIDAI, to stop enrolment of Indian citizens altogether and only empower RGI to do any enrolment. Planning Commission deputy chairman Montek Singh Ahluwalia has been also kept in the loop in preparing the cabinet note and Prime Minister Manmohan Singh has approved it as the minister-in-charge.

The UIDAI had sought government permission to seek the attorney general’s opinion on whether the law could be amended to allow acceptance of data generated by it. The home ministry has rejected the proposal as data captured by multiple UIDAI registrars did not meet the degree of assurance under NPR required from an internal security point of view. http://www.hindustantimes.com/Images/HTEditImages/Images/09-12--pg13c.jpg

It is clear from the circulated note that Nilekani and Chidambaram are on a collision path as the former feels that making Aadhaar dependent on RGI data would delay the exercise of making it a platform for service delivery, and the latter does not want bio-metric duplication and unverified data to become an internal security risk.

The ministry wants UIDAI to bring the issue to the cabinet so that it is not held responsible by CAG for bio-metric duplication.

But UIDAI, which has already enrolled 11 crore residents and issued 5.96 crore cards, says the purpose of RGI was to empower the government while it was a vehicle to empower the resident. The limit of enrolment for issue of UID numbers to 10 crore was extended to 20 crore through multiple registrars till March 2012 by the finance minister.