In view of the Supreme Court’s September 23, 2013 interim order that Aadhaar was not mandatory for claiming subsidy on domestic LPG, a former judge and consumer rights activists have decided to file a contempt petition against oil companies, the Unique Identification Authority of India (UIDAI) and the Ministry of Petroleum for ‘vigorously promoting through advertisements as well as using coercive messages’ to enrol people in the scheme.
Questioning the legitimacy of the UIDAI and the government’s claim that Aadhaar is the biggest tool to eradicate corruption in the country, Justice (retd) K S Puttaswamy, the main petitioner in the PIL filed in the Supreme Court on UIADI, Mathew Thomas, managing trustee of The Fifth Estate, Somasekhar V K, managing trustee of Grahak Shakti, and Sunil Abraham, CEO, Centre for Internet and Society, on Thursday announced that they would be soon filing a contempt petition in the apex court.
Participating in a discussion on “The UID Scheme: Is it a hoax, an exercise in futility or a mixture of both? – The myth, mystery and reality of UID” here, they were of the view that UIDAI had been clearly defying the Supreme Court order and had not been able to achieve any of its said objectives till date.
The UIDAI, the oil marketing companies and the Ministry of Petroleum and Natural Gas, deliberately defied the court order by advertising, sending SMSes and IVRS recordings telling people that they would not receive LPG cylinders at subsidised rates unless they obtain Aadhaar. This is a clear violation of the apex court order and contempt of court.
Thomas said, “UIDAI makes tall claims about the UID Scheme. None of the claims, however, has been tested or studied. They are based on the whims and fancies of those concerned.”
For example, on PDS (Public Distribution System), the Karnataka government has said in an RTI reply that they have not used UID to detect fake or duplicate ration cards.
They detected 44 lakh “ineligible” BPL ration cards using electric power meter numbers. “Food grains worth Rs 80,000 crore had been damaged each year for decades due to lack of storage facilities. What should the government’s priority be – spend money on building storage or on identifying welfare beneficiaries?” he asked.
Questioning the linking of bank account with UID, Thomas added, “How will direct benefit transfer using UID prevent siphoning of subsidies in LPG? What prevents misuse of the domestic LPG cylinder for commercial purposes after receiving the subsidy in the bank using UID number?”
Somasekhar said, “We are left with no option but to approach the Supreme Court for relief.
Legal notices sent to these people have not been answered, except for one oil marketing company, which replied stating that they would insist on UID numbers (Aadhaar) for paying subsidies through DBT.”