The Aadhaar numbers of lakhs of pension beneficiaries are suspected to have been displayed on a government website in Jharkhand in violation of the Aadhaar Act, which mandates that the unique identity number can’t be “published, displayed or posted publicly”.
The lapse came to light on Saturday evening when the UIDAI office in Ranchi called up the office of the Department of Women and Child & Social Security of the Government of Jharkhand, on whose website the numbers were displayed. It’s unclear for how long the data had been displayed on the website.
According to the Aadhaar (Targeted Delivery of Financial and Other Subsidies, Benefits and Services) Act, 2016, “No Aadhaar number or core biometric information collected or created under this Act in respect of an Aadhaar number holder shall be published, displayed or posted publicly, except for the purposes as may be specified by regulations.”
When The Sunday Express accessed the website on Saturday evening and randomly picked a district, Khunti, it threw up basic details of the beneficiaries, along with their bank accounts and Aadhaar numbers. But by late evening, the website had been blocked.
Director (Social Security) Ram Parvesh said, “We got a call from the UID cell telling us that the Aadhaar numbers of pension beneficiaries were being displayed on the website. We are aware of the seriousness (of the matter) and we will try to find out how and from where did this mistake happen,” he said, adding that data and other related aspects were monitored by the Project Management Unit in the Director’s cell. When asked whether the Unit comprised government employees, he said they “worked under the control of the authorities”.
According to the website, designed by the National Informatics Centre, Jharkhand, and maintained by the Department of Women and Child Welfare & Social Security, of the over 16 lakh pension beneficiaries in the state, more than 15 lakh had furnished their Aadhaar numbers.