Exclusive: Official File Notings on NPR and Aadhaar Contradict Home Ministry Assurances

Documents of the office of the Registrar General of India state that 60 crore Aadhaar numbers have already been collected and seeded with the National Population Register.

New Delhi: Even as the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) today termed as “not correct” a media report which stated that Aadhaar numbers would be compulsorily collected by the enumerators of the National Population Register (NPR) from those residents who already have such a number, documents of the office of the Registrar General of India (ORGI) – under the same ministry – from July 2019 accessed by The Wire categorically state that Aadhaar numbers which are not already in the existing NPR database “will also be collected along with various other items”. 

According to a file noting at the ORGI dated July 19, 2019, “While updating the NPR, the Aadhaar number of all the individuals whose Aadhaar number is not available in the NPR database will also be collected along with various other items”. 

The documents accessed by The Wire also state that approximately 60 crore Aadhaar numbers have already been seeded in the NPR database. 

Also read: No Documents Will Be Asked or Biometric Taken for NPR: Home Ministry

“The NPR thus prepared, was seeded with Aadhaar number during its updation (sic) exercise in 2015 along with collection of demographic details of new household members. Approximately 60 crore Aadhaar numbers have been seeded in NPR database.” 

The ORGI began collecting data for NPR in 2010 with the aim of issuing national identity cards to citizens. The Unique Identification Authority of India (UIDAI) began issuing Aadhaar numbers since 2010 to facilitate the exercise. 

While the NPR update in 2015 collected a huge set of data including Aadhaar numbers from various states, the process hit a roadblock when the ORGI office subsequently refused to share the data with states citing “privacy concerns”. The Supreme Court was then hearing a set of petitions about the constitutionality of the UID scheme. The states that sought the data – ostensibly to have a better outreach of their welfare policies – were Maharashtra, Tamil Nadu and Rajasthan.

The ORGI’s refusal also means that access to the NPR-cum-Aadhaar database has only been with the Central government. 

The ORGI, keeping in mind the recent Supreme Court judgment in the Aadhaar case, and the Aadhaar and Other Laws (amendment) Act, 2019, passed by parliament, also sought the permission of the Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology for collection of Aadhaar numbers during the NPR exercise.  

The “additional items” to be collected, as per the July 2019 file noting, include the following: 

  • Date and place of birth of birth of parents
  • Place of last residence
  • Passport number if Indian passport holder
  • Aadhaar number
  • Mobile number
  • Voter ID card no.
  • PAN number
  • Driving licence number

Home Ministry File Notings by The Wire on Scribd

These file notings flatly contradict the assertions made by MHA spokesperson Vasudha Gupta on Thursday.

Reacting to a report in The Times of India which said, “Sharing details of Aadhaar, passport number, voter ID and driving license during the planned NPR exercise would be mandatory if you possess these documents,” the ministry spokesperson in a tweet said, it “gives a wrong impression that these documents would have to be compulsorily given for the NPR exercise.”

She stated, “Such a connotation is not correct.” 

Contradicting the July 2019 file noting on the NPR updating exercise to be embarked upon from April 2020 to September 2020, the spokesperson also tweeted on January 16: “It is reiterated that no documents would be asked by the enumerators for the NPR exercise. If the respondents want to present documents for verification, they are free to do so. There would be no compulsion from the side of the enumerators.”

Though the file noting mentioned that PAN number would also be collected by the enumerators, recent media reports have said the MHA had decided to omit this requirement citing results from a “pre-test” of the exercise.