In a move that could have widespread implications for enabling both effective tracking as well as inclusion of prisoners, Prime Minister Narendra Modi has asked the Planning Commission to ensure enrolment of all inmates across the country under Aadhaar.
According to government officials, the PMO desired that all prisoners be brought under the ambit of Aadhaar, even though no specific time-frame was mentioned. This is yet another instance of the PM’s re-iteration of faith in the UPA government’s Aadhaar project. Previously, Modi had told the UIDAI to meet a 100-crore enrolment target at the “earliest”. The PMO had also issued a directive to the Planning Commission to collect data for Aadhaar and Direct Benefits Transfer Scheme in 300 priority districts and submit a status report by August 15.
So far, some states, including Gujarat, have taken the initiative to enrol prisoners under Aadhaar. The Gujarat High Court had earlier this year asked the state to issue Aadhaar cards to all inmates, in response to an application filed by Ahmedabad resident Shobhanaben Vaghela, who sought bail for her husband Prakash so that he could get an Aadhaar card and his family could ensure supply of cooking gas.
According to sources, while the exact intent behind this move is not clear, it is likely to serve a two-fold purpose of creating a secure database for prisoners to enable more effective tracking as well as ensuring their inclusion. Officials say there is an understanding that at a time when Aadhaar and subsequently the Direct Benefits Transfer Scheme is receiving much push, it would be “unfair” to leave prisoners out. Aadhaar enrolment can be an “enabler” for prisoners and their families to receive the benefits of several schemes dependent on it, say sources.
To achieve this, the task is expected to be assigned to state governments who, through registrars of UIDAI, would be required to set-up enrolment camps across prisons. Officials say since an address proof is required for Aadhaar, it is being considered that prisoners be allowed to give their respective prisons as the address, leaving them with the option of updating it to their permanent residence when released.