On Tuesday, several media reports claimed that the Hyderabad Regional Office of the Unique Identification Authority of India (UIDAI) had sent notices to 127 people to ‘prove their citizenship’ after it had found that they had obtained Aadhaar card illegally.
The media had reported that the UIDAI had served notices to certain citizens to appear before an inquiry officer as the office has received complaints/allegations against them that they are not citizens of India and have obtained the Aadhaar card through ‘false pretences’. They have been asked to appear before an inquiry officer on February 20 at a function hall in Balapur, the reports said.
“UIDAI sends notice on ‘illegal’ Aadhaars”, reported Deccan Chronicle.
Left-wing news outlet – The Scroll, which has a history of peddling fake news, went a step further to communalise the issue as it reported that UIDAI had ordered three Muslim Aadhaar-holders in Hyderabad to prove their Indian citizenship.
The New Indian Express also reported the same incident with a headline stating, “Prove your citizenship: UIDAI issues notices to more than 100 Hyderabad residents”.
India Today, which has been lately receiving severe criticism over fake sting operations and deliberate disinformation campaign, also reported that Aadhaar authorities had summoned a man in Hyderabad and asked him to prove his ‘citizenship’.
Following the outrage, on Wednesday, the UIDAI clarified that the news reports which had earlier reported that 127 people were sent notices for allegedly obtaining Aadhaar numbers on “false pretences” has got nothing to do with the citizenship.
In a series of tweets, the UIDAI clarified that they have not summoned people to check their claims of citizenship as Aadhaar is not a document to prove citizenship.
There are news items in certain section of media regarding UIDAI issuing notices of inquiry to some residents for obtaining Aadhaar on false pretence on the complaints from the State Police which suspect them of being illegal immigrants. 2/n
— Aadhaar (@UIDAI) February 19, 2020
“Aadhaar is not a document of citizenship and UIDAI has been mandated under the Aadhaar Act to ascertain residency of a person in India for 182 days prior to applying for Aadhaar,” the nodal body, which issues the 12-digit biometric ID, said UIDAI in a tweet.
The UIDAI citing news reports said, “It may be noted that the regional office Hyderabad received reports from the state police that 127 people have obtained Aadhaar on false pretences, as in their preliminary enquiry they were found to be illegal immigrants who were not qualified to obtain an Aadhaar number,”
As per the Aadhaar Act, such Aadhaar numbers are liable to be cancelled, it added.
“Therefore, the regional office Hyderabad has sent notices to them to appear in person and to substantiate their claims for getting an Aadhaar number,” it said.
The UIDAI emphasised that these notices have “nothing to do with citizenship and cancellation of Aadhaar number is in no way related to the nationality of any resident”.
In case it is found and proved that any of them obtained Aadhaar by submitting false documents or through false pretences, their Aadhaar is liable to be cancelled or suspended depending on the severity of the transgression, UIDAI said.
“Severe errors like forged documents, etc., will lead to appropriate actions, including suspending /cancelling the Aadhaar,” it cautioned.
“Sometimes it becomes necessary to cancel the Aadhaar number when it is found that a resident has obtained it by submitting false biometrics or documents. It is a routine quality improvement process that the UIDAI takes up regularly,” the authority said.
The 127 people have been asked to appear before the UIDAI deputy director in Hyderabad for a personal hearing on February 20. Additional time has been given to allow them to collect the required documents,
“Since it may take them some more time to collect the original documents that they had submitted for obtaining Aadhaar, as informed by the state police, the UIDAI has postponed the personal hearing to May 2020,” it added.