House panel seeks legal status for Aadhaar

The panel also asked the govt to take immediate steps to address issues pertaining to the project

The government has been asked by the Parliamentary Standing Committee on Finance to provide a statutory backing to Aadhaar at the earliest and take immediate steps to address issues pertaining to the project.

“The committee, therefore, once again reiterates that the government should immediately address the key issues relating to UIDAI and initiate measures for early legislation on the subject,” said the panel headed by senior Congress leader and former union minister M Veerappa Moily.

It noted that the reply of the Planning Ministry on the pending legislation on UIDAI has been repetitive.

In its reply to the panel, the Planning Ministry said, “In view of the recent steps taken by the government to universalise Aadhaar enrolments and to utilise it for several service delivery initiatives, the government recognises that there is an urgent requirement to pass the bill. Further steps, that are required to be taken to take the proposed legislation further, are being taken.”

The panel said, “The Committee had time and again urged the government to address the key issues related to the Unique Identification Authority of India (UIDAI) Bill, particularly in the light of recent Supreme Court Judgement.”

In October, lifting its earlier restriction, the Supreme Court had allowed voluntary use of Aadhaar for welfare programmes including MGNREGA, all pension schemes, provident fund and Pradhan Mantri Jan Dhan Yojna.

Before the order, the use of Aadhaar was restricted to public distribution system (PDS) and disbursal of cooking gas subsidy.

Last month, Finance Minister Arun Jaitley had said the draft legislation to give a statutory backing to the unique identification number is ready and a decision would be taken at an appropriate time.

However, the bill was not listed on agenda for the Winter Session of Parliament which began on November 26.

According to UIDAI website, 94.14 crore Aadhaar numbers have been issued so far as against the country population of 121 crore as per 2011 census.

In another report on the Statistics Ministry, the panel said, “The committee strongly feel that cadre review (upgradation of pay) in the subordinate statistical service is need of the hour to stop attrition and attract suitable candidates to tide over the present human resource crunch, particularly at the field level.”

The ministry told the panel that as on May 1, 2015, there were 204 vacancies of Senior Statistics Officers against the sanctioned posts of 1,756. There were 896 vacancies of Junior Statistics officers against the sanctioned posts of 2,195.

It also asked the ministry to start the pre-legislative consultation process to introduce a bill in Parliament for providing legal status to National Statistical Commission.

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