A day after 127 people were accused of obtaining Aadhaar numbers on "false pretences", and asked to 'prove their citizenship', All India Majlis-e-Ittehadul Muslimeen (AIMIM) chief Asaduddin Owaisi lashed out at the Unique Identification Authority of India (UIDAI).
"UIDAI did not follow due procedure and abused its powers. The result was (understandable) panic among people. First, UIDAI has no power to verify citizenship. It has few powers to look into some cases of Aadhaar being granted incorrectly," Owaisi tweeted.
127 people had been asked to appear before the UIDAI deputy director in Hyderabad for a personal hearing on February 20 with the necessary documents to prove their Indian citizenship, and if not an Indian national, to prove that they entered the country legally.
As the issue triggered a row, the nodal body, which issues the 12-digit biometric ID, said in a statement that it had "nothing to do with citizenship and cancellation of Aadhaar number is in no way related to the nationality of any resident".
They also claimed that the notices were issued after complaints from the police on fake Aadhaar cards.
"The Deputy Director in this case made it about verifying citizenship - which they arenāt empowered to do. The identical notices donāt even provide any specific findings of the preliminary inquiry that has to be made. Notices donāt even say what these āfalse pretencesā were. Which police officer provided you with this information?" the Hyderabad MP asked in response.
"Can Telangana DGP confirm if they shared a list of 127 names with UIDAI? Can they tell us on what grounds? Since UIDAI has now shifted the responsibility to Telangana police, it is their responsibility to clear the air," Owaisi said.
Responding to UIDAI's rejoinder that the notice was not about citizenship, Owaisi pointed out that the words used in the notice asked for verification of citizenship (not validity of aadhaar). "So will UIDAI suspend the Deputy Director who issued this notice? They clearly exceeded their powers by issuing this notice. It was a bad faith and biased exercise of their powers?" he asked.
"Request UIDAI and Telangana police to tell us how many of those 127 listed people are Muslim and Dalit," he further added.
THREAD: UIDAI did not follow due procedure & abused its powers. The result was (understandable) panic among peopleā Asaduddin Owaisi (@asadowaisi) February 19, 2020
First, @UIDAI has no power to verify citizenship. It has few powers to look into some cases of Aadhaar being granted incorrectly (rules 27 & 28) https://t.co/2QlzaOcwVJ
The Hyderabad MP also highlighted the city police's 'Cordon and Search' operations, where Aadhar details were also allegedly being sought. He said that the police were not legally permitted to do so.