THE UNION Home Ministry has issued directions to prison authorities across the country to make inmates “Aadhaar seeded” in a move that would bring over 4 lakh prisoners under the ambit of the Unique Identification Authority of India (UIDAI). It has also asked jail officials to use Aadhaar for identifying visitors to prisons.
In a recent communication to state governments and the director-general of prisons, Dilip Kumar, joint secretary, Ministry of Home Affairs, wrote: “Considering the fact that 109 crore Aadhaar numbers have been issued, which covers almost 99 per cent of adult population, it has been felt that prison inmates should also be Aadhaar seeded…”
The letter stated that “…facilities like production before court, interview, parole, free legal aid, return to prison, transport, health facilities, transport to education/vocational training, release from prison, etc., be regulated by use of Aadhaar.”
According to National Crime Records Bureau’s 2015 statistics, there are 1,401 jails across India housing more than 4.19 lakh prisoners.
In a separate communication, the Home ministry has advised the prison departments of states and union territories to use Aadhaar for identifying visitors in order “to ensure that only authorized individuals avail such facility”. “Since prison is a state subject, appropriate mechanism may be worked out by respective states in consultation with UTs,” the ministry noted.
In its communication on Aadhaar for prisoners, the ministry said, “…Aadhaar is now widely used in various government departments for attendance as well as unique identifier for DBT (Direct Benefit Transfer) under various centrally sponsored schemes. Section 57 of the Aadhaar (Targeted Delivery of Financial and other Subsidies, Benefits and Services) Act, 2016 allows the use of Aadhaar number for establishing the identity of an individual for any purpose…”
It pointed out that the linking of prisoners to Aadhaar will be of “immense utility” as this will not only help in “efficient handling” of inmates but will also ensure that the facility does not get misused and that the “security of prisons is not compromised.”