Opposition raises concern for Aadhaar scheme
New Delhi, April 10: Punching holes in the Aadhaar scheme, the Opposition in the Rajya Sabha on Monday said it was based on unverified data and violated the Supreme Court order that it should not be made mandatory for schemes which are not linked to subsidies.
They also raised concern over data integrity and privacy issues while attacking the government for using the Aadhaar system to exclude the beneficiaries for delivery of subsidies and claiming to have made huge government savings. Just before a short duration debate on Aadhaar started in the Upper House, IT and Law Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad said the government saved about Rs 50,000 crore LPG subsidy due to the linking of Aadhaar card with Jhan Dhan accounts.
"The World Bank and a UN body have clearly stated that the extraordinary technological innovation of India needs to be followed by the world. Surely they (UPA government) started it, but after improvements, it is showing results and the benefits have to be considered objectively," he said. The Aadhaar scheme was started by the UPA government.
"Now there is a robust legisation that has laid down the entire format of how the biometric data will be collected, processed, stored and under what terms and conditions will it be used," Prasad said. If there is unauthorised use of Aadhar card details, the law provides for prosecution and punishment for up to 3 years, he added.
Initiating the debate, Rajeev Chandrashekar (Ind) expressed concern over fake aadhaar cards, data integrity and privacy issues and also exclusion of subsidies by making it mandatory. He said he was not against the Aadhaar system but the risks and problems need to be addressed by the government. The government should not take a rigid position.
On fake Aadhaar cards, Chandrashekar said the government has inherited 100 crore unverified database created prior to bringing the law in 2016. These 100 crore entries do not come under the section 303 of the Aadhaar Act. The section provides for issue of Aadhar card only after verification, he said.
"What has Unique Identity Authority of India (UIDAI) done to comply with section 303 for all Aadhaar entries prior to 2016? ...Who is responsible for verifying these 100 crore entries before it is used as identity for elections, bank accounts and entering the airports for CISF?" When there is clear evidence of fake Aadhaar, he sought to know what safeguards the UIDAI had taken before permitting Aadhaar for use as an identification beyond delivering subsidies.
"This needs to be answered," he said. Congress leader Jairam Ramesh attacked the government for violating Supreme Court orders which clearly outlined where to use Aadhaar. Making it mandatory beyond subsidies is in gross violation of the SC orders, he said. Expressing grave concern over implementation of the scheme, he said making Aadhaar mandatory for availing subsidies was resulting in exclusion of beneficiaries and the government cannot claim to have saved huge subsidies by this.