House panel raps Planning Comm for breach of trust on new UID law
FRIDAY, 30 MARCH 2012 00:40 SEEMA SINDHU
Although the differences between the Planning Commission and the Home Ministry on Aadhaar or Unique Identification (UID) have been resolved, problems for the Plan Panel are not over yet. Now, the Plan Panel has been lambasted for breach of trust by the Parliamentary Standing Committee on Finance. The committee had raised concerns on some of the proposals of the National Identification Authority of India Bill, 2010 and asked the panel to re-introduce the Bill accordingly but it didn’t do the same but got more fund allocated for the project instead.
In a meeting on Wednesday, Committee Chairman Yashwant Sinha blasted the Plan Panel for its failure to re-introduce the UID Bill. According to highly-placed sources, Sinha sternly told Plan Panel Member Secretary Sudha Pillai that the panel was “bypassing parliamentary procedure and inviting serious problems by not having re-introduced the Bill and simultaneously making further fund allocations for the project”.
In December last year, the Committee had asked the Plan Panel to re-work the UID Bill, 2010. The Bill proposed for the creation of the National Identity Authority of India, which would oversee the implementation of the Aadhaar project. The Bill was to ensure that the authority has the legal footing to execute the project. It also sought to define the penalties for misuse of the data collected under the UID project.
The Committee had said that the Bill was “unacceptable” in its present form. It had also raised concerns over the cost of the project, lack of clarity on the total expenditure on the project, privacy of the data collected under the project.
After which the Panel had withdrawn the Bill and said that it would introduce a new Bill seeking enactment of UID into a law. While this has not happened yet, Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee allocated Rs 1,758 crore more for the project in the Budget 2012-13. The Government has already spent Rs 14,232 on the project. Sinha cited this and said that this is violation of parliamentary procedure.
In addition, in January this year, the Government had also extended the mandate Unique Identification Authority of India’s (UIDAI) to enrol an extra 40 crore people. Putting the conflict between the Plan Panel and Home Ministry on the duplication issues to rest, the Government had cleared the UIDAI’s proposal to enrol an extra 40 crore people in 16 States, saying the biometrics in other States will be collected under the National Population Register project.
The Unique Identification Authority of India (UIDAI) was created in January 2009 and had been mandated to register 20 crore people for providing a unique identification number, the ‘Aadhar’, by March 2012. The Authority is set to cross the target by the end of this month, with a million enrolments every day.
While the project has been surrounded a number of controversies, it is considered very important from the point of view that it will not only provide each citizen an identification card ensuring online verification and help financial inclusion, but also check pilferage in various social sector programmes which involve huge subsidies.
Sinha has asked the Panel to come up with a reply within next 10 days.