Delhi Govt Delinks Aadhaar From Social Welfare Pensions Of Widows, Pensioners & Differently-Abled People
The Aam Aadmi Party-led Delhi Government on July 31 ruled that Aadhaar card will not be required to access benefits for widows and pensioners. The decision came after the government approved the Social Welfare Department’s proposal of doing away with bank accounts being linked with the 12-digit biometric number for availing welfare schemes. The government statement further said that the Social Welfare department is now going to remit all the pensions that had been stopped due to lack of Aadhaar cards.
Lot of people suffering due to inability of banks to link adhar wid bank account. Today, Cabinet decided to delink adhar from widow n age old pension
— Arvind Kejriwal (@ArvindKejriwal) July 31, 2018
Social Welfare Department to remit old pensions
According to News18, a Delhi Government spokesperson said “The department will remit at old rates all pensions stopped due to lack of Aadhaar. Further, the enhanced pension will be remitted with effect from April 2018, to all beneficiaries who are getting the pension at old rates so that beneficiaries are not penalised for system-related reasons. The department is responsible for implementing Old Age Assistance, commonly known as Old Age Pension for senior citizens of Delhi. This assistance is available to all senior citizens who are residents of Delhi for at least five years and having a family income of Rs. 1,00,000/- or less per annum.”
Presently, the assistance provided by the government is Rs 2000 per month to beneficiaries between 60 to 69 years of age and an additional Rs 500 a month to beneficiaries aged 70 years and above. Additionally, Rs 500 more is given to beneficiaries between 60 to 69 years of age who belong to the SC/ST or minority categories, reported The New Indian Express.
Reportedly, the department has remitted the old age pension to 4.18 lakh beneficiaries and disability pension to 77,542 beneficiaries for April. While in 2016, it was decided by the Cabinet that Aadhaar cannot be forced upon for the remittance of pension, the 12-digit number was mandatory to avail enhanced pensions.
Hence, as many as 33,191 old age pension beneficiaries and 9,799 disabled persons were unable to avail the enhanced benefits of the scheme since 2016 due to “systemic issues” either with the department or with the banks reported The Hindu.
Cannot deny benefits due to Aadhaar related issues
As per the daily, the government statement, while citing Section 7 of the Aadhaar Act, said that beneficiaries should not be denied pensions for want of Aadhaar or failure to even authenticate the Aadhaar number. Reportedly, the Social Welfare Department had also received a circular from UIDAI which suggested the same. UIDAI had further suggested providing the benefits using an alternate ID, till the time an Aadhaar number is assigned.
Earlier in March, the Supreme Court of India had questioned the requirement of using the UIDAI number for drawing pensions by retired government officials. The apex court further stated that the pension was an entitlement and not a subsidy. Justice D Y Chandrachud had asked the government to explain the steps that it is taking to eliminate the financial exclusion of people who are legitimate beneficiaries of welfare schemes like pensions.
The Logical Indian Take
Aadhaar had troubles from the very beginning. Even after several reports over privacy concern and depriving the needy of their rightful benefits, Aadhaar has been forced down the throat of the Indian citizens under the shroud of welfare. It was introduced by the government for the protection of the poor and needy, but the most problems are faced by them. There have been reports of 4 starvation deaths in Jharkhand and all of them because of Aadhaar seeding. Yet, Aadhaar has been made mandatory for most things.
There are recommendations from UIDAI which suggests that pension and other welfare schemes cannot be denied for a lack of Aadhaar. The Supreme Court also ordered the same in March. It is good that the Delhi government is implementing this now.