Aadhaar [Day-6] Centre's Claims Of Savings Through Aadhaar Either Incorrect Or Highly Exaggerated: Petitioners [Read Written Submissions]
On Day 6 of the Aadhaar hearing before the Constitution Bench of the Supreme Court, the Petitioners highlighted the "inaccurate claims" made by the Centre and the Unique Identification Authority of India (UIDAI) in their affidavits.
Firstly, the Petitioners negated the claim that "millions of Indians had no method of acceptable identification and were disadvantaged because of their inability to show proof of identity". They contended that the percentage of people without any such proof of identity is less than 0.1%, which was the percentage of people who have had to enroll themselves through the ‘introducer’ system, where a third party introduces the individual who is unable to produce a proof of identity (PoI) or a proof of address (PoA).
They, therefore, asserted, "Far from the claim of ‘millions’ without a formal identity, the percentage is less than 0.1%. This cannot be justification for rolling out such a vast, invasive programme that is destructive of privacy."
The Petitioners then rebutted the claim of there being "enormous financial saving in welfare programmes by plugging leakages". They attacked the World Bank's estimate that Aadhaar has the potential to save $11 billion in subsidies every year.
They attempted to discredit World Bank's claim by referring to the paper cited in its report, explaining, "The World Bank Report... placed a footnote where the source was Shweta Banerjee’s 2015 paper titled ‘From Cash to Digital Transfers in India: The Story So Far’. (The World Bank Report is at page 563 of the Additional Affidavit filed by Dr. Kalyani Menon Sen (2nd Petitioner) on 05.01.2018 in Writ Petition No. 342/2017).
The footnoted article by Shweta Banerjee makes no such claims. It gives the figure of Rs.70,000 crores (approximately USD 11.3 billion) as the amount of ‘transfers’ that is disbursals from 5 schemes i.e. MNREGA, National Social Security Pensions, Janani Surakshna Yojna, Scholarships for Higher Education and LPG. After listing the 5 schemes, Shweta Banerjee writes:
“The value of these transfers is estimated to be Rs. 70,000 Crores ($ 11.3 billion per annum)”.
The World Bank claim of potential savings stands discredited."
Further, the Centre's claim of massive savings under MGNREGS was also claimed to be exaggerated, asserting that Aadhaar can be of assistance only in identifying bogus claimants by seeding the Aadhaar number with the MGNREGS job card. The Petitioners then explained, "The material on record shows that till 05.03.2015 (almost the end of the period 2014-15) the Aadhaar seeding was able to identify and eliminate just 63,943 cards and that too mostly (if not all) from one State – Tripura. The maximum saving for this period would work out to Rs.127.88 crores (100 days x 200 per day x 63943 cancelled cards). This is a small fraction (less than 5%) compared to the inflated figure of Rs.3000 crores claimed as a saving."
Similarly, with regard to the savings of Rs. 14,672 crores in 2014-15 being attributed to Aadhaar, they relied on a CAG report to submit that these savings cannot be fully attributed to the Government's scheme in view of the previous de-duplication exercise.Read Live Tweets of Today's Hearing by Gautam Bhatia
Read the Written Submissions here