NEW DELHI:The Unique Identification Authority of India (UIDAI), which generates the so-called ‘12-digit magic number’ better known as Aadhaar, in a recent RTI response provided details of 18 companies that it had awarded a total of 25 contracts to for various services under the scheme.
Among the list of companies is Gujarat-based Sai Infosystem (India) Limited, which was registered with the Registrar of Companies, Ahmedabad, in 2003. According to the response to the RTI query, the UIDAI contract was awarded to Sai Infosystem on February 2, 2011, for the purchase of biometric authentication.
In what raises concerns over the nature of scrutiny before awarding government contracts, the Ministry of Corporate Affairs website, however, mentions that prosecution was launched against the company’s promoters for defrauding several banks in 2013.
The promoter and managing director of the company, Sunil Bhai Kakkad, was also arrested by Interpol in June last year. Kakkad was held in Monrovia, the capital of the West African country of Liberia. It is not yet clear whether the UIDAI terminated its contract after the Sai Infosystem fraud came to light. The Corporate Affairs Ministry website has listed 10 charges against the company, which is also known to have bagged several government contracts over the years.
Also on the list is L1 Identity Solutions Operating Company, which was awarded the contract for implementation of biometric solutions for the UIDAI on July 30, 2010. A month after signing the contract with the UIDAI, L1 Identity Solutions was acquired by French corporate conglomerate Safran SA Group. Interestingly, clause 15.3 of the contract agreements with L1 Identity Solutions says: “The data shall be retained by L1 Identity Solutions Operating Company for not more than a period of 7 years as per Retention Policy of Government of India or any other policy that UIDAI may adopt in future.”
On February 2, 2011, the UIDAI signed a contract with Sagem Morpho Security Pvt Ltd, which is owned by Safran SA Group, for the purchase of biometric authentication devices.
In response to the RTI application filed by Anil Vedvyas Galgali of Mumbai, the UIDAI also revealed on September 4 that the total outlay for the project was `13,663.22 crore, and that since its inception it had incurred `6,562.88 crore up to last month.
Among the companies which were awarded contracts, Telsima Communications Pvt Ltd was signed by the Central government agency for hiring of space for the UIDAI Biometrics Centre of Competence (UBCC) on January 27, 2011. Telsima, based in New Delhi, was floated in 2000. As per the Ministry of Corporate Affairs data, Telsima has three directors on board—Raj Kumar, John Joseph Madigan and Vikas Kumar Jain.
In February 2011, the UIDAI signed a contract with Geodesic Ltd for the purchase of biometric authentication devices. Mumbai-based Geodesic includes Pankaj Kumar, Kiran Kulkarni and Prashant Mulekar on its board. Pankaj, an alumnus of IIT-Roorkee, had been adviser to SCO prior to founding Geodesic. Another contract was signed in February 2011 with Totem International Ltd, also for the purchase of biometric authentication devices. Totem international was floated in 2009, and the company has two directors—Firoze Zia Hussain and Munchoor Lokayya Shetty.
Magic Number BJP Wanted To Scrap
In the run-up to the 2014 general elections, the BJP had criticised the Aadhaar project, and had even promised to scrap it if voted to power. The then BJP’s general secretary and now Union Fertilisers Minister, Ananth Kumar, had said that if elected, BJP would not only scrap the UIDAI, but also initiate criminal proceedings against those who were responsible for the scheme in which a large amount of public money was misused.
The Supreme Court, on August 11, barred the government from making Aadhaar card mandatory for individuals to avail benefits of welfare schemes, and directed it not to share personal biometric data collected for enrolment under the scheme to any authority.
The RTI response received by Galgali says, “There is no tendering process for the empanelment of enrolment agencies. The empanelment of agencies is being done under empanelment process guidelines contained in RFE 2014, dated May 19, 2014… As on date (August 24, 2015) 90.30 crore Aadhaar have been issued.”
List of Companies Awarded Contracts by UIDAI
1 HCL Infosystems
2 HP India Sales Pvt Ltd
3 Wipro Ltd
4 MAC Associates
5 National Informatics Centre Services Inc
6 Sagem Morpho Security Pvt.Ltd
7 Totem International Ltd
8 Linkwell Telesystems Pvt Ltd
9 Sai infosystem (India) Ltd
10 Geodesic Ltd
11 ID Solutions
14 Telsima Communication Pvt Ltd
15 Aircel, Bharti Airtel Ltd, BSNL, RailTel Corporation of India Ltd, Reliance Communications, Tata Communications
16 Tata Consultancy Services Ltd
17 Satyam Computer Services Ltd. (Mahindra Satyam)
18 L1 Identity Solutions Operating Company