New dad's birth certificate ordeal
Time taken: one month; visits to civic authority: six; many more to Aadhaar centres
Ranchi: It took Joydeep Dubey (34) a month to get a birth certificate for his son, born on April 29 at Tata Main Hospital in Jamshedpur, after being made to do the rounds of the local civic authority and UID centres with officials in both places setting untenable conditions.
While officials at Jamshedpur Notified Area Committee (JNAC) insisted, wrongly, on an Aadhaar number for the baby first, those manning the Aadhaar desks at two post offices insisted, also wrongly, that they could issue an Aadhaar to a newborn only against a birth certificate.
Dubey ultimately got a birth certificate for his son on May 26, four weeks after he had first approached JNAC. But not before making endless rounds of the civic body office and various Aadhaar centres in Bistupur, Sonari and Golmuri.
Dubey shared his ordeal with The Telegraph.
"I first visited JNAC on May 5. There, an official asked me to fill a form and submit it along with Aadhaar cards of both parents and the newborn baby. I asked him how my son could have an Aadhaar card when we did not have a birth certificate? He told me to go to any UID centre and get one as they would not demand a birth certificate. 'That's how the process works,' he insisted. So, after searching the Aadhaar website, I decided to visit Sonari post office.
"At Sonari post office, officials said without a birth certificate, they could not provide an Aadhaar for a newborn. I went back to JNAC where officials suggested I go to the Aadhaar centre at Bistupur main post office. I approached Bistupur post office and elsewhere too. But none agreed to help me get an Aadhaar card for my son.
"Then, after further enquiries I came to know of a place at Golmuri where Aadhaar cards for newborns are made, that too only on Mondays and Fridays with prior appointment. I was told that it will take 15 days to get an Aadhaar card. Since I had to apply for a passport for my son I did not have so much time.
"Therefore, I went back to JNAC for the third time. This time, a senior officer said that if I gave an application, the rule of submitting an Aadhaar number for a baby could be waived for now. I wrote out my application and when I tried to submit it, I was told I could do so only in the morning while certificates would be handed out in the afternoon.
"It was already afternoon. But after much coaxing, they agreed to accept my application, but I was asked to collect the receipt the next day and the certificate a week later. Next morning, I went to JNAC office again (fourth time) at 10am for the receipt but got to know that the office opened only at 10.30am. I had prior business meetings, hence could not wait.
"I went to the JNAC office after a week (fifth visit) at 10.30am sharp, but realised that officials usually arrived after 11am. So I left and went back again at 2.30pm (sixth visit). I was then told that the computer operators had gone for lunch and would be back by 3pm. At 3.30pm, I was told that the operators would not return and that I had to come back again the next day. Finally, after I made a series of requests to officials, one of them called an operator and got the certificate printed."
JNAC special officer Sanjay Pandey could not say why his colleagues insisted on Aadhaar from Dubey when it is clear that a unique ID is not a prerequisite for issuing birth certificates. Instead, he spoke about Aadhaar camps.
"From our end, we hold Aadhaar camps from time to time to help the public. As far as birth certificates are concerned, we try to help as much as we can in special cases," he clarified.
In the time of Digital India, when every state government, including Jharkhand's, vouches of e-interventions to make people's lives easier, it is unclear why JNAC, or other civic bodies, do not have an online interface for such services.
"That is precisely my point," said Dubey. "I am not objecting to UID even though the Supreme Court is yet to pronounce its final judgment on Aadhaar, but surely the entire process of applying for, and getting, a birth certificate can be made online," he said.