The opposing stands of the Supreme Court and the Central Government on the linkage of Aadhar card to various schemes and services have left the citizens in a state of confusion. While the Center keeps asking us to link our Aadhar cards, the Apex Court has still not made Aadhar a mandatory document. This lack of communication has led to a series of unfortunate events in different parts of the country.
1. Non-linkage of Aadhar to the ration card is causing deaths
After the government announced the mandatory linking of Aadhaar card with the ration card, many people in states like Rajasthan and Jharkhand were denied ration. Why? Because most of them did not possess an Aadhaar card. This move claimed the life of an 11-year-old girl, Santoshi Kumari in Jharkhand who starved to death as her family was denied ration. The same was the case in Karnataka. A report stated that since they failed to link their Aadhaar card with their BPL ration card, they were refused ration which led to starvation and subsequent death of the Dalit family.
2. Difficulties for taxpayers:
The taxpayers in Kerala, are finding it difficult to link their Aadhar cards to their PAN cards. This is because they are accustomed to using initials in their names, a style that is happily accepted by PAN. However, Aadhar does not accept this, making it difficult for the linkage to take place as people now have different names on different cards.
3. Difficulty in linking mobile number due to discrepancies in biometrics
While making an Aadhaar card your fingerprint and retina information gets stored in a biometric lock. However, there a few issues with acquiring biometrics. The fingerprints of several aged people have vanished due to aging which means that their Aadhar card was issued without their biometric data. Senior citizens are not alone in this. People who are involved in hazardous activities, often see their fingerprints fading. This issue with biometrics makes it difficult for them to get their phone numbers linked to their Aadhar cards as telecom companies get the fingerprints verified.
There are several cases wherein more than 200 government websites publicly displayed personal information of Aadhaar card holders like their name, address, Aadhaar number etc. The hacking can be blamed on the poorly managed security system of the website raising several questions regarding whether our personal information is safe or not. Besides, biometric information is easily replicable. There was a case in which 200 Mumbai students replicated biometric information for securing attendance. So one can only imagine how unsafe it is to link biometrics with their bank accounts.
5. Problems in claiming social welfare schemes:
Procuring benefits of social welfare schemes and subsidies has also become a major problem for people without Aadhar cards. In Chandigarh, a 28-year-old woman was denied abortion, to which she was legally entitled, just because she couldn’t produce an Aadhaar card. Besides, there is a lot of confusion not only among people but also within the government whether welfare schemes like Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme (MGNREGS) and Employees Pension Scheme need linking of Adhaar card or not for these schemes to be availed.
These issues cannot be addressed in isolation and need immediate attention. This would require the Center and the Supreme Court to be on the same page. For this, the SC has asked for a constitutional bench to be set up to look into the Aadhar linkages. Several petitioners have been demanding a stay on the order that Aadhar be made mandatory for various welfare schemes as it will have an adverse effect on people across the country. Until then, one will have to wait for the interim order, if any.