NEW DELHI: Home ministry has been asked by the cabinet secretary to approach Attorney General (AG) to find a way out from the prospect facing the Registrar General of India (RGI) of taking fresh biometrics of nearly 70 crore people as the Unique Identification Authority of India (UIDAI) is not sharing it with the RGI.
This has raised the prospect of another tussle between the RGI and the UIDAI. A Committee of Secretaries (CoS) headed by cabinet secretary PK Sinha has asked the home ministry to seek the AG’s opinion on the issue of sourcing of biometric data from UIDAI for preparing the mandatory National Population Register (NPR). This came after home secretary Rajiv Mehrishi complained to the CoS that if UIDAI would not part with biometric information for RGI’s NPR, the “statutory mandate of preparing the NPR will be obstructed”.
Mehrishi has also pointed out before the CoS that it had been previously decided by cabinet, while allotting states for biometric enrolment to the UIDAI and RGI in 2012 under the UPA rule, that both the organisations would “mutually share” the information.
RGI needs biometrics of nearly 70 cr people – which have been captured by the UIDAI for Aadhaar – to prepare the NPR. RGI has shared biometrics captured by it of nearly 28 crore persons with UIDAI for generation of Aadhaars but the latter is citing its recently passed Act to say core biometric data cannot be shared with any government or private agency except individual cases on grounds of national security.
“RGI hence faces the prospect of taking biometrics of 70 crore people again for preparing NPR…any such exercise will be a huge financial burden,” a top government official told ET. Also, while RGI captures enrolment data under 15 parameters while UIDAI does it under only 5 heads. “Hence, UIDAI enrolment data can anyways not co-relate to RGI and NPR requirements,” the official said.A Home Ministry spokesperson did not comment when asked on the stage of the process of seeking the AG’s opinion but pointed out that NPR and Aadhaar “came under different acts” – the Citizenship Act, 1955 and the recently passed UIDAI Act respectively.
“The law will decide,” the home ministry spokesperson said. A source said the Home Ministry will pitch for an amendment to the recently passed UIDAI Act or a provision in the still-to-be-enacted rules of the Act to mandate the UIDAI to share the data with RGI. However, a senior government official said that the ministry case was weak until the Cabinet approves the long-pending MHA’s proposal of Resident Identity Cards planned to be issued to all residents over 18 years – the final step in the NPR process.