Aadhaar body UIDAI tells Hyderabad man to prove citizenship, sets up a row
The deputy director and inquiry officer of the authority running biometrics-based identity card system, Amita Bindroo, has asked Mohd Sattar Khan to appear before her at 11am on February 20.
A 40-year-old auto-rickshaw driver in Hyderabad has been asked by the Unique Identification Authority of India (UIDAI) to prove his citizenship over a complaint that his Aadhaar card is fake.
The deputy director and inquiry officer of the authority running biometrics-based identity card system, Amita Bindroo, has asked Mohd Sattar Khan to appear before her at 11am on February 20 “with all necessary documents in original to prove all his claims of Indian citizenship.”
“If you are not an Indian national, prove that you have entered the territory of India legally and your stay is valid,” the notice, served under Rule 30 (Chapter VI) of Aadhaar (Enrolment and Update) Regulations, 2016, said.
The notice to Khan, a resident of Bhavani Nagar in Talab Katta area, is dated February 3.
Quoting the complaint without mentioning its source, Bindroo said Khan had obtained his Aadhaar card through false pretences, making false claims and submitting fake documents.
“An inquiry has been ordered to ascertain the veracity of the complaint/allegation,” she said.
The notice also said if Khan failed to appear at the inquiry in person and submit the documents in original to substantiate his claims of his citizenship, the matter would be decided against him suo motu and his Aadhaar card would be deactivated.
After a controversy erupted over the notice, UIDAI - the body mandated to issue the biometric identification number - explained that the notice was issued after receipt of a police report that 127 people had obtained Aadhaar on false pretences and were found to be illegal immigrants.
“As per the Aadhaar Act, such Aadhaar numbers are liable to be cancelled,” a statement by the UIDAI said, pointing to provisions for cancelling Aadhaar issued on the basis of false documents or information.
Speaking on behalf of the auto driver, his lawyer Muzafferullah Khan said his client’s father late Mohd Aziz Baig was an employee of Allwyn Industries, a public sector undertaking, and his mother is now a pensioner.
“They were originally staying at Sanathnagar, where Allwyn factory was located, and later, they moved to the old city. How can he be suspected to be a foreign national?” he asked.
Muzafferullah Khan pointed out that under the Aadhaar act, the Aadhaar card is not a document to prove Indian Citizenship and that UIDAI has no authority to verify citizenship based on the identity card.
“Moreover, there is no mention in the notice on what basis his Indian citizenship is being questioned. It also did not specifically mention as to what documents one should produce to one’s Indian citizenship,” the lawyer said.
He, however, said his client would attend the inquiry as per the notice and submit all documents.
“But we shall also challenge the UIDAI notice in Telangana High Court,” the lawyer said, adding that the notice had lent credence to the apprehensions that verification of Aadhaar was part of the National Register of Citizens (NRC) exercise.
It is not clear as to whether Khan was the only person to get such notice from UIDAI.
“But going by the way he was called to a function hall for attending the inquiry indicates that the UIDAI authorities might have issued similar notices to many people and called them for the inquiry on February 20,” Muzafferullah Khan said.
When contacted, UIDAI assistant director-general in-charge of Telangana Deepu Salim Nediyara refused to comment, stating that he was not authorised to speak to the media.
Efforts to reach out to Dr Vikash Shukla, general manager of media, communications and public outreach did not succeed.
Mohd Amzadullah Khan, the president of Majlis-e-Bachao Tehreek (MBT), a Hyderabad-based political party, suspects UIDAI might have initiated the inquiry based on information from the police.
He said the notices were served on several such individuals who had obtained Aadhaar cards from a particular Mee Seva Centre—a state government-authorised single-window public utility centre—in the old city in 2018.
“Apparently, two Rohingya settlers had obtained Aadhaar cards from this Mee Seva Centre and applied for Indian passports. During the police inquiry, it was found that the applicants were refugees from Myanmar and had obtained fake Aadhaar cards,” the MBT leader said.
“So, they suspected that all those, including Khan, who obtained Aadhaar cards from this centre, could be fake and hence, recommended for verification by UIDAI authorities,” he said.