It has come to light that ration card shops are demanding UID/Aadhaar number from ration card holders, therefore, there is a need to inform the concerned shop owners and the concerned state department about the notifications and letter of Union Ministry of Consumer Affairs, Food and Public Distribution prohibiting demand for UID/Aadhaar from non-Aadhaar holders.
As per the Consumer Guide of Ministry of Consumer Affairs, Food and Public Distribution, “Aadhaar is not a compulsory scheme at all, it is a voluntary based scheme and anyone who is interested can enroll for Aadhaar.”
As per Section 1 (3) of the February 8, 2017 notification of the ministry, in cases where an individual does not have an Aadhaar, the notification states that the following documents be produced for providing food grains:
1. Ration Card issued by the State Government Department;
2. Copy of Aadhaar enrollment ID slip or copy or request made for Aadhaar enrollment; and
3. Any of the eight documents specified in the notification like PAN card, Voter ID etc.
According to the Letter of Pramod Kumar, Joint Secretary, Department of Food &Public Distribution, Union Ministry of Consumer Affairs, Food & Public Distribution sent to Principal Secretary/ Secretary, Food and Civil Supplies Department of all States on the subject of Aadhaar Seeding with Ration Cards on24 October, 2017, “No person or household shall be deleted from the list of eligible households and denied subsidised food grains or cash transfer of Food subsidy under NFSA only on the ground of not possessing Aadhaar.” The letter was copied to CEO of UIDAI.
The amendments to the relevant provisions of the National Food Security Act 2013 makes it clear that those desirous of availing subsidy may get themselves enrolled for UID/Aadhaar till 30 September 2018. It is not mandatory.
The notifications, relevant and the press release given below for ready reference:
1. Amendment (Extension till 30 September 2018) - Notification under Section 7 of Aadhaar Act (Issue Date 02/07/2018. Valid up to 02/07/2020) [Amendment dated 29th June, 2018 to Notification of Feb 8, 2017]
2. Amendment (Extension till 30June2018) - Notification under Section 7 of Aadhaar Act (Issue Date 02/04/2018. Valid up to 31/03/2021) [Amendment dated 2nd April, 2018 to Notification of Feb 8, 2017]
3. Amendment (Extension till 31March2018) - Notification under Section 7 of Aadhaar Act (Issue Date 05/01/2018. Valid up to05/01/2019) [Amendment dated 26th December, 2017 to Notification of Feb 8, 2017]
4. Amendment (Extension till 31Dec2017) - Notification under Section 7 of Aadhaar Act regarding requirement of Aadhaar Number/ Aadhaar authentication for subsidies under PDS. (Issue Date 28/09/2017 Valid up to 31/12/2020) [Amendment dated 28th September, 2017, 2017 to Notification of Feb 8, 2017]
5. Amendment - Notification under Section 7 of Aadhaar Act regarding requirement of Aadhaar Number/ Aadhaar authentication for subsidies under PDS. (Issue Date 06/07/2017 Valid up to 01/07/2019) [Amendment dated 29 June, 2017 to Notification of Feb 8, 2017]
6. Notification under Section 7 of Aadhaar Act regarding requirement of Aadhaar Number/ Aadhaar authentication for subsidies under PDS (Issue Date 10/07/2017 Valid up to 10/07/2020) [Amendment dated 8 February, 2017]
7. Press release note for notification under Aadhaar Act (Issue Date10/07/2017 Valid up to 10/07/2020) Refer to last paragraph of the Press release-July 10, 2017
In a related development, on 31st July, 2018, Union Minister of State for Consumer Affairs, Food & Public Distribution, C. R. Chaudhary informed Lok Sabha that “Department has issued clear instructions to all States/UTs that no beneficiary/household shall be deleted from the list of eligible beneficiaries/households only on the ground of not possessing Aadhaar, and shall also not be denied subsidized foodgrains or cash transfer of food subsidy under NFSA due to non-availability of Aadhaar or failure of biometric authentication due to network/connectivity/ linking issues/ poor biometric of the beneficiary or other technical reasons.” The fact remains UID/Aadhaar cannot be linked to entitlements of social benefits and services because the entitlements are for “citizens” of India, not residents of India. UID/ Aadhaar number claims to be proof of residentship in India.
In a RTI reply on the application of Dr Anupam Saraph dated January 29, 2018 provided by Unique Identification Authority of India (UIDAI) of Union Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology (MEITY), it has been admitted that UIDAI does not certify the identity, address, date of birth, resident status or existence of any individual or any Aadhaar number. Given the fact that certification is essential to identify the person and agency responsible for the issue of the identification document and to establish their legal liability for the identification with the person, even the claim of UID/Aadhaar number being proof of residentship has been found to be bogus, akin to misleading advertisements by vendors of all shades.
In such a backdrop, UID/Aadhaar cannot be relied upon by central and state departments of consumer affairs, food and public distribution and other departments. It is high time all the central and state ministries and agencies updated their notifications in the light of the revelations made in these RTI replies and abandon UID/Aadhaar number database project.
Dr Gopal Krishna
The author had appeared before the Parliamentary Standing Committee on Finance that examined the Aadhaar Bill and the Parliamentary Standing Committee on Food, Consumer Affairs and Public Distribution that examined the Consumer Protection Bill. He is editor of www.toxicswatch.org and is the convener of Citizens Forum for Civil Liberties which has been working on UID/Aadhaar issue since 2010.