Aurobindo Banerjee, former chief commissioner of Income Tax, in this open letter to the UIDAI chief, highlights the issue of legal status of the Aadhaar number and its acceptance as valid proof by mobile operators
Mr Nandan Nilekani,
As a young officer of the Indian Revenue Service (IRS) in the early 1970s, I can claim to have first mooted the idea of something like the Aadhaar number to track black money and we got a somewhat primitive version of today's PAN, which is much improved now.
When Aadhaar was introduced and you took over as the head of the project, with your background, I was elated, though much older and already retired. I had great hopes and was simply waiting to get my Aadhaar number and was proud to obtain one last year. I even wrote to your office to link it up with the PAN, which is still NOT done in the current version of the project (I have again submitted myself, along with my nephews for yet another series of cards.) I can, however, add that I proudly carry my Aadhaar and Pensioners' ID cards, both issued by the Government of India (GoI), on my person always.
But, as one dabbling in the arena of law for 35 years and even now, I have serious doubts about the legal sanctity of the very concept from my personal experience and hence this mail, for whatever it is worth to you. People like us cannot be associated with this type of innovations, but we certainly can give our feedback, I hope.
I am a retired chief commissioner of Income-tax and have a Pensioners' ID card as well as the Aadhaar number. I applied for getting my Vodafone mobile connection, migrated to Airtel on the basis of the aforesaid two documents. Airtel refused to accept the validity of Aadhaar number (and ID card issued by the I-T Department). As TRAI (Telecom Regulatory Authority of India) is NOT accessible, can I request the Prime Minister's Office (PMO) to take up the issue to ensure that Aadhaar number is given its proper recognition by the private operators in the telecom arena?
As a retired civil servant, it is insulting to me (and to my country) that a private party would refuse to accept the Aadhaar number as a legally valid ID or residence proof. In fact, the government should take action against Airtel for this utter disrespect of the sovereign Govt of India.
I am sure, you do feel the same way as this 68 years-old man does.
A Banerjee, IRS (Retd.)
Ex-Chief Commissioner of Income-tax
Note: Moneylife has sent a mail to Airtel and we would incorporate their response as and when we receive it.