Nothing to Do With Citizenship: UIDAI On 127 Notices Issued in Hyd
However, the UIDAI asserted that these notices have nothing to do with citizenship.
The Unique Identification Authority of India (UIDAI) on Tuesday, 18 February, said its Hyderabad office has sent notices to 127 people for allegedly obtaining Aadhaar numbers on "false pretences" but asserted these have nothing to do with citizenship.
The notices were issued after reports from the police, the UIDAI said.
"Aadhaar is not a document of citizenship and UIDAI has been mandated under the Aadhaar Act to ascertain residency of a person in India for 182 days prior to applying for Aadhaar," the nodal body, which issues the 12-digit biometric ID, said in a statement.
The Supreme Court, in its landmark decision, has directed the UIDAI not to issue Aadhaar to illegal immigrants, it said.
"It may be noted that the regional office Hyderabad received reports from the state police that 127 people have obtained Aadhaar on false pretences, as in their preliminary enquiry they were found illegal immigrants who were not qualified to obtain an Aadhaar number," the UIDAI said.
As per the Aadhaar Act, such Aadhaar numbers are liable to be cancelled.
"Therefore, the regional office Hyderabad has sent notices to them to appear in person and to substantiate their claims for getting an Aadhaar number," it said.
The UIDAI emphasised that these notices have "nothing to do with citizenship and cancellation of Aadhaar number is in no way related to the nationality of any resident".
‘UIDAI Has No Authority to Question Nationality’
Auto-rickshaw driver Mohammed Sattar Khan, a resident of Talab Katta area in the city, is among those issued notices by the UIDAI. As they have been asked to appear at a function hall, it triggered speculations that a significant number of people may have received the notices, IANS reported.
Sattar Khan's lawyer Muzafferullah Khan Shafat told IANS that UIDAI has no power to question the nationality of any person.
"If any person is in possession of Aadhaar card without providing sufficient information or by any other way, they are having powers under Rules 29 and 30 to deactivate his Aadhaar number but they can't question nationality of any person. Even at the time of making the Aadhaar card, there is no procedure to establish my identity. Only thing is that I have to give my date of birth and even place of birth is not required. Taking this into consideration these people have no authority to asking any person to prove his nationality," he said.
He further said that the notices were issued to people who are “not educated.”
“They don’t even know to read and write their names. They are daily wage workers. Whatever work they get they will do. They are the only breadwinners for their families.”Muzafferullah Khan Shafat, Sattar Khan’s lawyer
AIMIM Chief Asaduddin Owaisi also questioned UIDAI’s authority to demand proof of citizenship, stating that it is “illegal and unacceptable.”
‘A Routine Process’: UIDAI
Meanwhile, in case it is found and proved that any of them obtained Aadhaar by submitting false documents or through false pretences, their Aadhaar is liable to be cancelled or suspended depending on the severity of the transgression, UIDAI said.
"Severe errors like forged documents, etc., will lead to appropriate actions, including suspending /cancelling the Aadhaar," it cautioned.
“Sometimes it becomes necessary to cancel the Aadhaar number when it is found that a resident has obtained it by submitting false biometrics or documents. It is a routine quality improvement process that the UIDAI takes up regularly,” the authority said.
The 127 people have been asked to appear before the UIDAI deputy director in Hyderabad for a personal hearing on February 20. Additional time has been given to allow them to collect the requisite documents.
"Since it may take them some more time to collect their original documents that they had submitted for obtaining Aadhaar, as informed by the state police, the UIDAI has postponed the personal hearing to May 2020," it added.
Shafath said that his client will appear before the inquiry officer with all the documents.
"We will see what orders they pass and what will be their repercussion before deciding our legal course of action. We can't sit idle and take it for granted," the lawyer said.
Earlier, speaking to The News Minute , Srinivas Kodali, an independent researcher on Open Data and Aadhaar had said that the UIDAI does not have any authority to raise questions on the citizenship of an individual.
“This is the job of the Ministry of Home Affairs. This incident clearly shows UIDAI had several issues in its enrollment process which was privatised. If anyone needs to be enquired into it is the UIDAI and it's secret functioning. They are not accountable to the citizens anymore and behave like they are digital gods who control us,” he told TNM.
(With inputs from PTI, IANS, The News Minute)
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