On a day when the Supreme Court rejected the plea of oil PSUs for compulsory requirement of Aadhar cards, the Centre on Tuesday approved the National Identification Authority of India Bill that will give statutory status to the Unique Identification Authority of India (UIDAI).
The Cabinet meeting, chaired by Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, approved provisions of the Bill that would provide legal backing to Aadhar subsidy disbursal. The total estimated outlay approved by the Cabinet Committee on UIDAI project is `12,398.22 crore.
Rattled by the Supreme Court’s earlier ruling on Aadhar, which made it clear that the 12-digit number is not mandatory to avail of government services, the UPA government was looking for statutory cover for the UIDAI, which is operating through an executive order for the last four years.
The apex court order prompted the government to approve the Bill.
The Supreme Court maintained that the Aadhar card is not compulsory for availing 0f social benefits.
The apex court, however, agreed to give an urgent hearing to the Centre on the issue, but refused to grant any relief to it and oil PSUs seeking modification of its earlier order in this regard.
Sources said the Bill is likely to be taken up during the Winter session of Parliament. It may be noted that the National Identification Authority of India Bill 2010 was trashed by the Parliamentary Standing Committee on Finance in December 2011, which had termed the executive decision ‘unethical and violative of Parliament prerogatives’.
Shockingly, the Ministry of Planning had also admitted before the parliamentary panel that “no committee has been constituted to study the financial implications of the UID scheme” and it was given a go-ahead without even having a “detailed Project Report”.
The committee in its observation had expressed surprise over the government’s decision of providing Aadhar to every resident despite battling with illegal immigration and infiltration issues.
Less than a year after the committee’s observation, the UIDAI scheme in 2012 came under the Intelligence Bureau scanner after it issued Aadhar numbers in the name of fruits and vegetables like ‘Apple’ and ‘Coriander’. The incident had exposed the Nandan Nilekani-led UIDAI’s claim of having a foolproof process for vetting individual profiles.