The demise of aadhaar number was very obvious as it was a pure illegal and unconstitutional project. The Narendra Modi led government was left with limited options regarding the Aadhaar project and its scrapping was the top choice for it. Now hints have been given by the central government that Aadhaar project may be scrapped ultimately.
However, in order to achieve this task, the central government needs to strengthen its own pet project i.e. National Population Register (NPR). Working in this direction, the home ministry of India has asked the Registrar General of India (RGI) to identify the “citizens” and “non-citizens” while preparing the NPR. The NPR authorities will undertake a door-to-door verification exercise across the country in this regard.
The citizens’ register, to be called the National Register of Indian Citizens, will serve as the database for national identity cards carrying a unique national identity number for each citizen of the country, besides other identification fields. A list of 19 documents – including birth certificate, death certificate, land records, school records – have been identified for proof of citizenship. Regarding non-citizen residents of the country, there is a proposal to issue them resident identity cards, which will be of a colour different from the national identity cards held by citizens.
The Aadhaar project was suffering from a major setback in the sense that it issued numbers/cards to even non citizens and illegal migrants in India. This was resulting in granting of benefits of public welfare schemes to even those who were not entitled to the same.
Sources in the government indicated that UIDAI, which administers the Aadhar scheme, may soon see its role diminished due to de-duplication, even as NPR focuses on biometrics collection. The government will also take a call on whether the existing Aadhar database is to be handed over to the NPR authorities, which may then carry out address verification in line with its security norms.
However, the NPR exercise has its own “Demerits and Constitutional Issues” and they must be resolved first. Simply merging of Aadhaar and NPR biometric data is not a sensible option according to Praveen Dalal. More detailed and constitutional analysis of NPR and national identity cards would be provided by Praveen Dalal very soon.