“Say no to UID campaign” gathers 3.57 crore signatures
March 21, 2012
Despite the Parliamentary Standing Committee on Finance and other civil society groups coming out against the UID scheme, the government is yet to act on the opposition to the scheme from various quarters Moneylife Digital Team
Two days before the Union Budget, 2012-13, a truckload of signatures arrived in New Delhi. Collected by the Socialist Unity Centre of India (SUCI), these 3.57 crore signatures were in support of a campaign named “Say no to UID”. Yet, what can possibly be the biggest signature campaign largely went unreported.
On 14th March, a rally led by SUCI met prime minister Manmohan Singh. The truckload of signatures for the petition demanding the scrapping of UID and some other biometric data-collection schemes have been pictured. A delegation, headed by SUCI member Tarun Mandal, also met the prime minister to discuss their demands. Mr Mandal could not be contacted, as he is abroad. Though the SUCI rally was covered by some newspapers, they appeared oblivious to the presence of the truck that carried the 3.57 crore signatures.
The “Say no to UID” campaign is being supported by various civil society organisations and citizens groups. Gopal Krishna, spokesperson of Citizens Forum for Civil Liberties (CFCL), New Delhi says, “The petition was submitted to the PM on 14th March. Independent organisations across India are supporting the move. We want the government to scrap the UID Aadhaar scheme immediately.”
A press release dated 16th March, sent out by the consortium of the civil society groups, cites the report on The National Identification Authority of India (NIDAI) Bill, 2010, by the Parliamentary Standing Committee (PSC) on Finance, 2011-12. The PSC report, dated December 2011, had damned the UID scheme, and came down heavily on the Executive for infringing on legislative powers. The press release says, “The Union Budget allocation of Rs14,232 crore for Aadhar-UID demonstrates a contempt of Parliament as it seems to ignore the recommendations of the report of PSC on Finance on the NIDAI Bill, 2010.” The groups have also criticised the National Population Register (NPR), another project that requires biometric enrolments of all citizens.
The PSC report had stated, “Considering the contradictions and ambiguities within the government on its implementation as well as implications, the committee categorically convey their unacceptability of the National Identification Authority of India Bill, 2010, in its present form. The committee would, thus, urge the government to reconsider and review the UID scheme as also the proposals contained in the Bill in all its ramifications and bring forth a fresh legislation before Parliament.”
The PSC had said, “The collection of biometric information and its linkage with personal information without amendment to the Citizenship Act, 1955, as well as the Citizenship (Registration of Citizens and Issue of National Identity Cards) Rules, 2003, appears to be beyond the scope of subordinate legislation, which needs to be examined in detail by Parliament.”
Kamayani Bali Mahabal, eminent social activist and human rights lawyer, said that the increased allocation for UID amounts to a contempt of the Parliament. Col Mathew Thomas, a former defence services officer and missile scientist turned civic activist and Somasekhar VK, founder patron of Coordinated Action of Consumer & Voluntary Organizations of Karnataka have challenged the UID Aadhaar scheme in a representative suit in a civil court in Bangalore. Mr Somasekhar has extensively campaigned against this issue, and he says, “Most of the people after attending our programmes ask us about the procedure to withdraw from the Aadhar registration and many of them are writing to the respective agencies to withdraw and cancel their applications. This will further complicate the process and we have to see how they go about it.” Col Matthew says that mentioning the 3.57 crore signatures against UID will strengthen their case.