A bureaucratic bid to file an affidavit in the Supreme Court for linking the distribution of subsidy and other government benefits with the Aadhaar number has come as a major embarrassment to the State government.
The move reportedly made by officials without the consent of the Cabinet or the Ministers has come in for criticism, and the government has been forced to beat a hasty retreat.
Industries and IT Minister P.K. Kunhalikutty, who is in charge of implementing Aadhaar in the State, issued a clarification on Monday that an affidavit would be filed in the Supreme Court only after allaying the apprehensions of the people. He said the one prepared by officials would be discussed at the Cabinet before being filed at the Supreme Court.
The Minister’s clarification has made it evident that the attempt made by officials went against the stance adopted by the State government and Chief Minister Oommen Chandy. Mr. Kunhalikutty has informed the Advocate-General that the affidavit need be filed only after discussing it at the Cabinet. If needed, the government will seek more time for filing it.
The move has come to light soon after Chief Minister Oommen Chandy sought six months’ time with the Centre for seeding Aadhaar numbers with bank accounts in the State.
Though the Centre extended the deadline for the process till February 28, Mr. Chandy had said that this was insufficient as 40 per cent of the people had not linked their numbers with the bank accounts. A majority of the applicants had not got the Aadhaar cards.
Even ruling front MLAs appear to have come out against the move. T.N. Prathapan, MLA, expressed his resentment against the move to file the affidavit without the consent of the Cabinet, the Chief Minister or the Minister concerned.
Mr. Prathapan told The Hindu that a section of bureaucrats were trying to bypass the Cabinet and the Ministers in conductingcases in the High Court and the Supreme Court. Even policy decisions were being made by the bureaucrats without taking the Cabinet into confidence. This was unbecoming of the government. Stringent action should be taken against the officials who were responsible for such moves, he said.