Slamming notifications issued by various ministries of the Union government pushing for Aadhaar enrolment in order to avail benefits under welfare schemes, several civil society activists pointed out that the directives were creating barriers, especially for women and children, in accessing legal entitlements.
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At a press briefing held on Tuesday, they also criticised the government for ramming through Aadhaar, by giving deadlines for enrolment, despite the case against the Unique Identification (UID) still pending before the Supreme Court.
Activist Dipa Singh of the Right to Food Campaign said the SC order had allowed Aadhaar to be used only for six schemes that too on a voluntary basis, while the government was slowly making it mandatory for most schemes. “There are serious issues pertaining to the child’s privacy and consent. Why do children have to be numbered and marked to get benefits. How is making Aadhaar mandatory going to make midday meal scheme transparent and improve quality, which is often the excuse given for implementation of UID?” she said.
Rights groups pointed out that Aadhaar enrolment was being made mandatory for schemes for education, food, health, NREGA, benefits for the disabled, senior citizens, women and children. Legal expert Usha Ramanathan said, “This vulgar desire to put everyone on database even before they are born is indicative of an ambition to be a digital superpower. The idea seems to be to capture every part of the population illegally so that no one escapes.”
Anjali Bhardwaj of Satark Nagrik Sangathan said there have been several cases in Delhi of PDS rations being denied to women or scholarships not given to children unless they furnish an Aadhaar card. There have also been cases of denial of benefits due to poor network coverage and biometrics not matching.