The National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) is of the opinion that the government's move to provide citizens with 'Aadhaar' or unique identification numbers in its present form could lead to discrimination.

The NHRC's remarks came in response to views from it sought by the Parliamentary Standing Committee on Finance headed by Yashwant Sinha on National Identification Authority of India Bill introduced last December.

The Bill seeks to establish National Identification Authority of India for issuing 'Aadhaar' numbers to Indian residents to facilitate access to benefits and services.

The Commission was of the view that in the proposed provisions in the bill, the "possibility of discrimination cannot be ruled out" as the bill provides that every resident shall be entitled to obtain an Aadhaar number, but does not say that it would be issued to all citizens.

Emphasising the need for adequate safeguards against discrimination, the Commission noted that the issuance of an Aadhaar number has not been made compulsory under the Bill and residents who do not obtain one may find themselves at a disadvantage vis-a-vis those who do.

"Since the Aadhaar number is to be used and applied 'for delivery of various benefits and services', a citizen who does not have one may be denied access to these, while a resident, who may not be a citizen, would have access if he had obtained an Aadhaar number," the NHRC said...