States defy SC ruling to make Aadhaar a must in key schemes
Some state governments have made the unique identification, or Aadhaar, number mandatory for basic rights such as employment under a rural jobs scheme and electoral enrolment despite a Supreme Court order that the 12-digit biometric number is not necessary for government entitlements.Updated: Apr 12, 2015 09:32 IST
Some state governments have made the unique identification, or Aadhaar, number mandatory for basic rights such as employment under a rural jobs scheme and electoral enrolment despite a Supreme Court order that the 12-digit biometric number is not necessary for government entitlements.
Madhya Pradesh, Andhra Pradesh, Himachal Pradesh and Rajasthan are some of the states that have prescribed the Aadhaar number to get government entitlements from April 1, the start of the financial year in India. On March 24, the Apex Court told the Centre to withdraw all instructions linking public service with the Aadhaar number.
But the states have been in overdrive after Prime Minister Narendra Modi asked chief ministers to ensure that all schemes are Aadhaar-based to check leakages and ensure proper monitoring at a meeting of the National Institution for Transforming India (NITI) Aayog in February.
Madhya Pradesh has instructions that no enrollment for the Mahatama Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme will be made from April 1 unless the applicant has enrolled for Aadhaar or has a unique identification number.
"The NREGA management information system in MP is refusing to accept work demandsunless the Aadhaar or enrollment number is given. This blatantly illegal denial of work and contempt of SC orders is another attempt to derail the NREGA," said Reetika Khera, who has written several books on the job guarantee scheme.
A Madhya Pradesh government official, however, said it was part of the national drive to bring all government schemes under the Aadhaar platform. "The instructions have come from the Prime Minister's Office in this regard and we are just following the order," the official, who was not willing to be identified, said.
Similarly, in Andhra Pradesh, state electoral officers are refusing to enroll new voters unless they have an Aadhaar number. The Election Commission has set a deadline of August 2015 to embed Aadhaar numbers in the electoral rolls of 820 million voters across India and chief electoral officers have been issued directions to meet the deadline.
"Election Commission officers are balatanly refusing to enroll those who don't have an Aadhaar number in violation of the law which prescribes that a person has to provide age and address as proof for enrollment," said a government official.
Chief Election Commissioner H S Brahma has said an Aadhaar number is not mandatory for enrollment in electoral rolls.
The Andhra Pradesh government has also issued directions that people can seek entitlements, including work under NREGA, only if they have an Aadhaar number. In Visakhapatnam district, about 64,217 people have lost cooking gas subsidies as they failed to submit their Aadhaar numbers on time.
In Himachal Pradesh, officials say, instructions have been issued that the government will not provide any entitlement if the person fails to provide an Aadhaar number. Similar directions have also been issued in Haryana and Rajasthan.
Unique Identification Authority of India (UIDAI) officials said over 850 million Aadhaar numbers have been generated and they were on track to meet the June 2015 deadline for enrolling all eligible Indian residents for the world's biggest biometric collection mechanism.