BENGALURU: Days before the Aadhaar Act came into force in Karnataka (on August 1), the state government made a series of observations pointing out how its departments had faltered in making Aadhaar mandatory for citizens to avail state-funded services all these years.
In a circular issued to officials of various departments last month, a copy of which is available with ET, chief secretary TM Vijay Bhaskar has raised concerns about departments making Aadhaar mandatory for services without issuing notifications or obtaining consent from beneficiaries. The circular notes that most departments are not even competent to seed Aadhaar into their database, leading to denial of services and benefits to genuine beneficiaries.
The chief secretary has cautioned departments against making Aadhaar mandatory for all services owing to past experiences. “The purpose of collecting Aadhaar is not very clear in most of the schemes’ directions. Department officers are making Aadhaar compulsory without being clear as to what problems they would introduce through introduction of Aadhaar into the scheme. Many a time, the benefit accruing through the introduction of Aadhaar may get overweighed by problems which get introduced through this mechanism,” the circular stated.
The state’s top executive officer noted that most of the departments do not even know how to seed Aadhaar into the database. “If any demo-authentication is done on seeded database between the name of the beneficiary and Aadhaar number, there is a large possibility that at least 50% of such cases would fail,” the circular declares
Several complaints were reported all over the state about the departments denying services to genuine beneficiaries on the pretext of Aadhaar mismatch or authentication failure. There were issues in availing services through public distribution system, housing schemes, pensions and scholarships. At least a sixth of the beneficiaries of state schemes are in Bengaluru.
Activists had feared that the introduction of the Karnataka Aadhaar Act that allows departments to make unique identification number mandatory to avail services would increase the number of cases where beneficiaries are denied services.
In fact, in an attempt to solve the authentication problem, the Centre for e-Governance in partnership with Unique Identification Authority of India had even developed a name-matching software to seed Aadhaar with the document last year. However, those opposing Aadhaar had questioned the basis on which the departments had made Aadhaar mandatory on the lines of Central government departments. It is for the same reason, the Karnataka government introduced the Aadhaar Act that gives legal power to state departments to allow the use of Aadhaar in the delivery of services.
But the chief secretary, while issuing detailed guidelines to the departments for Aadhaar seeding, has also raised apprehensions over how the state departments made Aadhaar mandatory in the first place.
“Whether they had any power to issue notification or orders for state schemes in the absence of State Aadhaar Act itself is debatable. Most departments which are requiring citizens to submit Aadhaar have not designed any consent form. Aadhaar details are just collected through a photocopy or by writing Aadhaar number on a book or paper without taking any consent in writing,” the circular reads. In a bid to gauge the need for Aadhaar seeding for selected schemes and services, the chief secretary has ordered the formation of an expert committee. All departments are mandated to get their strategy cleared from the committee. “The committee is yet to be formed. It will happen as and when Aadhaar Rules are framed,” an officer at the Centre for e-Governance said.
Notifications were not issued before making Aadhaar mandatory, says CS
PROBLEM OR SOLUTION?
Departments are making Aadhaar compulsory without being clear as to what problems they would introduce through the introduction of Aadhaar into the scheme. Many a time, the benefit accruing through the introduction of Aadhaar may get overweighed by problems which get introduced through this mechanism.