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A spate of tragedies including deaths, because claimants to legal entitlements – rations and hospital beds – were denied when they failed to produce their Aadhaar cards, have rocked upright sections of the media and the social media of late. With the government adding more services to the Aaahdaar cart every day, the entire issue has become a farce, especially with the entire Aadhaar linkages issue now being argued at the Supreme Court. The government, despite its somewhat obtusely arrogant stand, has been pushed to the wall.

A couple of days earlier, the Unique Identification Authority of India (UIDAI) had, in a statement, clarified that no person who does not have an Aadhaar card, can be denied his or her due and legal entitlements.

And now Law and IT Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad has come out with a stamen saying benefits accruing from government…

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A spate of tragedies including deaths, because claimants to legal entitlements – rations and hospital beds – were denied when they failed to produce their Aadhaar cards, have rocked upright sections of the media and the social media of late. With the government adding more services to the Aaahdaar cart every day, the entire issue has become a farce, especially with the entire Aadhaar linkages issue now being argued at the Supreme Court. The government, despite its somewhat obtusely arrogant stand, has been pushed to the wall.

A couple of days earlier, the Unique Identification Authority of India (UIDAI) had, in a statement, clarified that no person who does not have an Aadhaar card, can be denied his or her due and legal entitlements.

And now Law and IT Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad has come out with a stamen saying benefits accruing from government schemes cannot be denied on grounds of failure to produce the Aadhaar card.

While this makes the government’s stand look a trifle stupid, the general hue and cry among the public regarding this draconian move by the government to track and control each and every move and action of the public has pushed the government on the backfoot.

Two pregnant women, in the recent past, had been denied entry to government hospitals because they did not have Aadhaar cards. The women were forced to deliver their babies within the hospital compound, but sans medical care.

The minister was speaking on Tuesday at a meeting of IT ministers and secretaries from different states. Going against his own government’s obtuse insistence on the Aadhaar card, whose database has, often in the recent past been hacked, Prasad said that if in the absence of the Aadhaar card or number, any alternate identity proof should be enough for the person to claim his or her due of essential services such as healthcare and food grains under the food for all scheme.

Finally speaking the same language that the uninfluenced section of the media had always been saying, Prasad admitted that biometrics do not match due to worn out fingerprints, an issue that has been repeated ad infinitum by the media. He conceded that this has been one of the biggest failures of the Aadhaar system when he said that food grain shops cannot deny claimants their quota of ration. As a backup of sorts, the minister said in such cases the beneficiary’s name and other details must be noted in a register.

As if the chaos created by the already existing porous database was not ENOUGH, Prasad added another complex angle, that of a completely unreliable facial recognition system. He said that facial identification will kick-off from July 1. This is to “end the problems faced by labourers, farmers and senior citizens.”

This is the government’s new, enlightened stand, it seems.

–        India Legal Bureau

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