CHENNAI: Aadhaar may no longer be used a proof of relationships and hence not useful for crucial purposes like obtaining legal heir certificates.
The Unique Identification Authority of India (UIDAI), the overarching body for Aadhaar, has modified the fields like 'S/O' or 'W/O' in the Aadhaar ID cards and made it as 'C/O'. This means that the other
person is merely treated as part of the address, not of the relationship.
The changes have come to light after a few people applied recently for corrections in Aadhaar found that the column to have changed in the Aadhaar card as 'C/O'.
T Sadagopan, a resident of Pattabiram, found that in the card issued after an address correction, his father was mentioned merely as 'C/O', though his father is living in a different address.
When he filed an RTI application to UIDAI seeking clarification, the reply given by the authority was, "The Aadhaar is issued on the basis of bio-metric and demographic information of the individual and no relationship is ascertained in r/o S/O, D/O, W/O etc., the relationship filed have been modified to C/O for enrollment as well for update in Aadhaar."
The decision will affect those who lack other documents and depend on the Aadhaar for important purposes like obtaining legal heir certificates and birth/death certificates.
Poor migrants, especially, will be at a disadvantage since many of them do not have other documents and enrolled for Aadhaar with the hope of using it for multiple purposes. The central government had publicised Aadhaar as an identity which any common man can use.
In fact, in September, the Tamil Nadu revenue department issued a circular listing Aadhaar as one of the acceptable proofs for issuing legal heir certificates. Legal heir certificate is required for the inheritance of property and other important statutory matters.
Since the state government has still not changed its circular, those having old Aadhaar card with the relationship status mentioned can use it for the purposes.
But those getting Aadhaar card hereafter or making changes in details will not be able to use it for such purposes since the relationship will no longer be mentioned.
“While all the other documents including driving licence have got the fathers/husband’s name, why UIDAI alone removing the relationship title? Do the government has any plans of demanding medical tests to include parent relationship?” asked Sadagopan, who is also president of the Tamil Nadu Progressive Consumers' Centre.
When asked for her comments, legal researcher and activist Usha Ramanathan, said, it was interesting that the UIDAI has explained that the relationships were not verified.
"Yet, the form has columns for the father's name and mother's name, and that is not verified either. Truth is, nothing in the UID system is verified. So this effort seems to be to provide standardisation while taking as little responsibility for the information in the database as possible. They are constantly making changes in the process and the diluting any merit that the document may have had," she said.
She highlighted how Aadhaar was not considered as a proof of citizenship in the National Register of Citizens.
A recent amendment in the Prevention of Money Laundering (Maintenance of Records) Rules
also allowed people to use an address different from that in UID system by just submitting a self-declaration.
"So, the address has also become redundant even under the law for preventing money laundering. Thing is, they are only interested in the UID number. That is to become ubiquitous so that people can be tracked. They don't really care about any of the other information. Thing is, this was never an ID for people. It was a number to track people. And standardising databases help that," she said.
On the other hand, the changes may make it difficult for people when dealing with several statutory matters.
Advocate VS Suresh Souli said, “Invariably, all the courts ask accused persons or those who sign surety to furnish Aadhaar and its used verify the father’s name. When Aadhaar is made mandatory for availing many benefits and filling the income tax, the additional information in the document should not be removed even though it is only meant for identity proof. Such a crucial document should have multiple purposes."
Express could not reach UIDAI for comments.