Civil society groups to urge parties not to make Aadhaar mandatory

Ahead of the 2019 general elections, civil society organisations working in varied fields have decided to approach political parties to amend the Aadhaar Act to prohibit its mandatory use and make it an electoral issue.

Over 300 members from the organisations, including Right to Education, Paryavaran Suraksha Samiti, Mazdoor Kisan Shakti Sangathan, and NREGA Sangharsh Morcha among others, in a signed statement on Tuesday said that mandatory use of Aadhaar for availing social benefits as upheld by the Supreme Court has lead to extreme distress and even death in many cases.

"The total numbers of people negatively affected by the mandatory use of Aadhaar runs into the hundreds of thousands and it is therefore not a small issue either in intensity or in numbers. Aadhaar has also led to many problems in the linking of bank accounts and people’s entitlements going into the wrong accounts," Right to Food Campaign, one of the signatories to the campaign said in the statement.

The organisations intend to ask people on the ground who have been the victims of this huge experiment to make it clear during the elections that they will target parties who have thrust the mandatory use of Aadhaar upon them, it added.

The collective campaign will aim at seeking a categorical commitment from all political parties that there won't be any mandatory use of Aadhaar for availing social benefits.

"We strongly believe that people should be allowed multiple forms of identity and authentication in order to be able to access their benefits," the organisations said.

It also questioned the government's claim that use of Aadhaar as lead to huge savings to the exchequer on the grounds that if 'billions of dollars in corruption' has been stopped as is being claimed then many criminal cases should have been filed, fraudsters should have been prosecuted, and recoveries made. 

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