‘Forcing’ consumers to get cards violates Supreme Court order, they say
The Supreme Court has scrapped the Aadhaar card in its interim order, saying that it is not mandatory to avail the card to get government subsidies. But, people are still being asked to submit the cards, once they are issued, to get subsidy on cooking gas (LPG) cylinders.
Documents provided by consumer activist P N Chandrashekar show that consumers wanting to avail non-Aadhaar-based LPG subsidy transfer need to make a submission that they will furnish the Aadhaar card to the bank once it is issued to them.
One of the testimonies needed to be submitted by the non-Aadhaar card holders to the bank as well as the LPG distributor goes like this: “I confirm that I do not have Aadhaar number as on date. As soon as I receive the Aadhaar number, I will link the same to my LPG consumer number by giving a copy of the same to my distributor and also will get it linked to my bank account.”
If a consumer does not give the Aadhaar card despite having it, he will face punishment under the Indian Penal Code for giving false information.
Justice K S Puttaswamy, a retired judge of the High Court of Karnataka, who had moved the Supreme Court against the Aadhaar card, termed these measures contrary to the BJP’s national manifesto and the Supreme Court directions.
“The interim orders passed by the Supreme Court on a batch of petitions on Aadhaar card have virtually scrapped the Unique Identity (UID) scheme. Yet, the government is pushing for it. The BJP is stepping back from its poll promises,” said Justice Puttaswamy.
V K Somasekhar of Grahak Shakti said that the Centre was trying to push for the project by bringing in the National Identity Authority Bill in parliament.
Somasekhar said, “Officials promoting this scheme believe that diversion of subsidised LPG can be checked through the UID. I can vouch that the subsidised cylinders can be diverted even after making Aadhaar mandatory.”
He said that the percentage of diversion is now minimum as the oil companies have understood the problem and have taken many corrective measures. The companies have realised that a 14.25-kg cylinder will be enough for a family of four for 21 days. So nobody can avail a refill cylinder before 21 days. Another important measure is the IVRS system whereby the oil companies have stopped the distributors from accepting the request for a refill cylinder.
The consumers can directly call the IVRS number and the request is forwarded to the distributor. Whenever a bill is raised, the consumer gets an SMS alert, said the consumer activist.
He said that unless the consumer colludes, there is no diversion of subsidised cylinder.
Somasekhar said, “Aadhaar, according to our study for four years, which is expected to check the misuse of government schemes for poor people, is a fraud.”
He said Aadhaar was linked to the LPG delivery system to achieve the registration target, on which already Rs 8,000 crore has been spent.
“When the Centre realised that they were failing in this scheme due to lack of interest among the people, particularly the middle class, they linked LPG subsidised cylinders to Aadhaar.”
Somasekhar said, “We brought these contradictions to the notice of the courts. In the lower court, we failed. But, when we learnt about a Public Interest Litigation in the Supreme Court, we intervened in the petition. We expanded the argument by bringing discrepancies to the notice of the Apex Court.”
He expressed serious reservations over the UID, saying that US-based L-1 Identity Solutions, where retired Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) director George Tenet is on the roll, has been assigned the task to execute the programme. Somasekhar plans to file a contempt of court petition against the Centre over the violation of its order.