Aadhaar: time to disown the idea
“…The Committee categorically convey their unacceptability of the National Identification Authority of India Bill, 2010…The Committee would, thus, urge the Government to reconsider and review the UID scheme.…”
This was the conclusion of Parliament's Standing Committee on Finance (SCoF), which examined the Bill to convert the Unique Identification Authority of India (UIDAI) into a statutory authority. With this categorical rebuff, the SCoF dealt a body blow to the Aadhaar project, which is being implemented from September 2010 without Parliament's approval.
Technically speaking, the SCoF report asked the government to bring forth fresh legislation before Parliament. However, a careful examination of the report shows that it does not just reject the Bill, it also raises serious questions about the idea of Aadhaar itself. In fact, the report so comprehensively questions the idea that any effort to introduce fresh legislation would require, as a prerequisite, a re-look at the foundational principles on which the project was conceived.
Apparently, the Committee worked well, though they came up with a 'No':
Ironically, till last week, the same SCoF had come in for profuse praise from none other than Nandan Nilekani himself. He had said in August 2011: “I have had the occasion to…make a presentation on more than one occasion to the Standing Committee…let me tell you they do an extraordinarily thorough job. I am very, very impressed with the quality of questions, the homework, the due diligence, the seriousness that they view these things with. And it is very bipartisan, you can't make out who is from which party because they all ask on the issue. So when you have such an excellent system of law-making...Let us respect that, let us give them the opportunity to call all the experts for and against and let them come out with something. They are the appropriate people, they are our representatives.”
The “representatives” have now spoken.