The government yesterday gave the go ahead for the formation of a statutory body to be christened - National Identification Authority of India (NIAI), an initiative that will pave the way for collection of data for allocating unique id numbers. With the approval the way has been cleared for introduction of the NIAI Bill 2010, in winter session of the parliament.
The legal sanction for the authority would facilitate collection of private data of citizens that would make it difficult to challenge in a court of law. The government plans to allocate the first set of numbers, in next few weeks to citizens in Maharashtra.
In 2009, the Unique Identification Authority of India (UIDAI) had already made it clear that, by an Act of Parliament it would be set up as a statutory body. However, many NGOs are planning to challenge the proposed Bill.
A sum exceeding Rs3,000 crore for the current year has already been allocated for the project for the current fiscal and by 2014 the authority plans to allocate 600 million numbers. The collected citizen data would be used for identification purposes by oil marketing companies, ration shops, bank loan providers, mobile operators and others,
Once it is passed, the NIAI Act 2010 would include a direction against collection of any information other than the permitted information permitted, with specific prohibitions against collection information as regards religion, race, ethnicity and caste. It will also include penal provisions against failure to comply with the directions issued by persons employed by or associated directly or indirectly with the data repository, registrars, enrolling agencies and other service providers.
"The UID project is primarily aimed at ensuring inclusive growth by providing a form of identity to those who do not have any identity," the statement said.
It added that the Bill would provide aadhaar numbers to the marginalised sections of society and thus would strengthen equity.