ABDUL GANI | 31 MARCH, 2017
GUWAHATI: The central government is moving full speed ahead to make Aadhar mandatory, more so by linking it to the filing of Income Tax returns, but in Assam and Meghalaya there seems to no movement forward on this issue.
The case of Assam is peculiar. There will be no Aadhar cards enrolled in the state before the National Register of Citizens (NRC) is updated. In Meghalaya too it seems uncertain as several organiations have actively opposed Aadhar.
In Assam only six per cent of the population has been covered, with Meghalaya faring slightly better with nine per cent. The Assam government does not want to the enrolment for Aadhar to happen before the completion of the NRC updates, so as to avoid unnecessary controversy.
The NRC is a document containing the names of Indian citizens prepared in 1951. Unique to the state of Assam, this document was prepared to distinguish Indian citizens from illegal migrants from then East Pakistan. The ongoing NRC update process will enlist the names of genuine citizens based on NRC 1951 and the electoral rolls up to midnight of March 24, 1971.
Though the Supreme Court had set a deadline of March 1 of 2016 to complete the update of NRC, it’s still far away from the goal. This time too the deadline has come and gone.
Though many government schemes, including education and others are now linked to Aadhar, the Assam government has assured the people here that they need not worry. “For us the NRC is most important and has to happen first. Then we will work towards making Aadhar mandatory. I don’t think it will create any problem,” said a state government source.
In Meghalaya, a group called Meghalaya Peoples’ Committee on Aadhaar (MPCA) said that they stood by what they have decided.
“Our stand has been the same. Because till today the Supreme Court has not given any order except the interim order. We have also learnt that it’s not secure,” said Pastor PB Syngkli of MPCA.
On March 27, Supreme Court said that the government cannot make Aadhaar card mandatory for welfare schemes offered by it. On the other hand, it also said that the government cannot be stopped ‘from using Aadhaar in other schemes like opening of bank accounts and filing of income tax’, as reported by the media.
Earlier, in September last year, the Supreme Court had said that Aadhaar cannot be made mandatory for any service.