Following the Supreme Court asking the government to clarify the structure of the Unique Identification Authority of India (UIDAI) to ascertain the legal validity of the agreements UIDAI had entered into with States, the next hearing is slated for Tuesday.

Jean Dreze, eminent economist, had filed an affidavit in the Supreme Court taking up the matter related to the denial of NREGA wages in Jharkhand as a few labourers do not have UIDAI. According to recent instructions given to Block Development Officers in Khunti District, all NREGA workers are now supposed to be paid through UID-enabled bank accounts. However, NREGA workers without UID are at risk of not being paid, even after they have worked.

“We wish to alert the Supreme Court to cases of non-payment of wages to NREGA workers in Khunti District [Jharkhand], due to their having no UIDAI cards. This is a violation of the Supreme Court’s interim order dated 23 September 2013, which clearly states that “no person should suffer for not getting the Aadhaar card in spite of the fact that some authority had issued a circular making it mandatory,” stated the affidavit exclusively accessed by The Hindu.

The affidavit revealed a specific case in Tirla Gram Panchayat. Among 22 workers who worked on “Land Development in Belahati (Kartik Ram)” from December 19, 2013 to December 25, 2013, three did not have a UID.

While their names were clearly entered in the list of workers to be paid, their names were missing from the corresponding e-Muster Roll, which is used for actual payments. The data entry operator skipped their names after entering “EID” against them in the margin, to indicate that they do not have a UID. (“EID” is a provisional ID number assigned at the time of UID enrolment – the said workers have an EID but no UID as they are still waiting for their UID card).

According to Mr. Dreze, neither the Block Development Officer nor the District Collector were able to explain how these workers would be paid. “When we visited Tirla, the workers who had worked at the NREGA worksite confirmed in writing that the three above-mentioned workers have indeed worked with them at that worksite, and that wages are due to them. Those who have a UID did get paid,” stated the affidavit.

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