5 charged under Aadhaar Act after a surprise raid in Bengaluru

Five persons, including a former gazetted officer and an Aadhaar operator, have been charged under the Aadhaar Act for issuing fabricated attestations–only the third such instance in the city and the second in a month.

This comes barely a fortnight after a gazetted officer was arrested for enabling three Pakistani nationals living illegally in the city to enrol for Aadhaar cards.

Officers of the Unique Identification Authority of India (UIDAI), which issues the Aadhaar numbers, filed first information reports against the five persons after conducting a surprise check Tuesday evening on an enrolment centre in Yelahanka New Town.

Among those charged is M Devaraj, a retired section officer in the state education department, and a former gazetted officer found “issuing fabricated attestations of proofs of identity and residential address,” according to the police report.

The others are: Mohan Kumar S, who runs the Aadhaar enrolment centre; Pradeep Kumar, a former Aadhaar operator who had been blacklisted; Megha Dutta, also an operator; and Srinivas M Rathod; a driving school agent functioning as a gobetween.

With Aadhaar becoming mandatory for a wide number of applications–filing tax returns, applying for mobile phone numbers and booking flight tickets-there is a greater demand for the biometrics-based unique identity number and, consequently , increasing abuse of the system.

ET has found operators at some BengaluruOne centres, where Aadhaar application forms are issued, creating an artificial scarcity and thus forcing citizens to approach middlemen for enrolment.

ET also found touts and unauthorised agents charging between Rs. 100 and Rs.1,000 for facilitating enrolment for Aadhaar cards, including by issuing false documents.

This, when Aadhaar application forms can be downloaded free from the UIDAI website.Citizens do not have to pay the Aadhaar operators for enrolment–the government pays them Rs.50 for every enrolment and Rs. 25 for making changes such as to the address or mobile number.

Ashok Lenin, deputy director, UIDAI regional office , Bengaluru, has submitted a report in the case to the Deputy Director General Pronab Mohanty . UIDAI registered the complaint at the Yelahanka New Town police station.

[Copyright By Umesh Yadav]