Earlier today, news agency PTI (Press Trust of India) sent out an update that suggested that having an Aadhar card was mandatory for getting a death certificate from October onward this year:
— Press Trust of India (@PTI_News) August 4, 2017
//platform.twitter.com/widgets.jsIn absence of any details, and the way the update was worded, people thought that a person dying must have got an Aadhar number, or death of such a person will not be registered. Soon, Twitter was full of such jibes and jokes:
Please die before 30th September 2017, in case you don’t have an Aadhaar Card. https://t.co/LehBr8qAS5
— Trendulkar (@Trendulkar) August 4, 2017
However, of late, PTI has developed a dubious distinction of spreading half-truths or fake news. Recently, it had spread misleading claim about Defence Minister planning surgical strikes due to an “insulting question” by a journalist, then it spread fake news about Yogi Adityanath government drastically reducing education budget, and only last month, it spread old pics of Chennai airport as those of Ahmedabad airport, for which they even drew flak from Information & Broadcasting Minister Smriti Irani.
And yet again, PTI was not exactly accurate.
On closer look of the press release issued by the Home Ministry, it becomes clear that the claim of Aadhar number being “mandatory” was misleading. Not only that, the step was not as regressive or void of logic as it may sound (this of course is beyond the basic concerns about privacy).
First let us understand what exactly has the government said:
- First of all, it is already mandatory to register birth and death of citizens, and that’s actually a good thing for accurate information and management of human resources of a nation.
- Nowhere the press release says it is “mandatory” or “must” or “necessary”. The title of the release is “Requirement of Aadhaar number for Registration of Death of an Individual”.
- Through today’s press release, the government has essentially said that if a deceased person had an Aadhar number or Enrolment ID, the relatives (or the applicant registering the death) should disclose that number or ID to the authorities.
- In case the person did not have an Aadhar number or had not even enrolled for it, or if the relative or applicant are not aware of the status, the same should be declared by the relatives/applicants in writing by issuing a certificate, wherein they should take responsibility for their declaration.
- Therefore, even if a person did not have an Aadhar number or enrolment ID, he or she will have their death registered.
- One line in the press release suggests that the applicant should mention his or her Aadhar number while issuing the certificate/declaration about deceased person not having an Aadhar card. It is not clear what will be done if no one in the family has an Aadhar card. Perhaps the same can be declared in the certificate.
- Home Ministry has claimed that the objective of this new rule is to ascertain the identity of the deceased person and to smoothen the process. The press release says “it will obviate the need for producing multiple documents to prove the identity of the deceased person.”
- Another objective, and that is very important, is to prevent identity theft and frauds. The press release says “It will provide an effective method to prevent identity fraud.” One should note that many scams involve using identities of dead persons to withdraw benefits available in government schemes. One such scam was unearthed in Uttar Pradesh in April this year. Thus, by this step, the government wants to ensure that an Aadhar number is not misused for such scams once a person has passed away.