When I opposed Aadhaar in 2010 , I was called a BJP stooge. In 2016 I am still opposing Aadhaar for the same reasons and I am told I am a Congress die hard. No one wants to see why I oppose Aadhaar as it is too difficult. Plus Aadhaar is FREE so why not get one ? Ram Krishnaswamy

First they ignore you, then they laugh at you, then they fight you, then you win. -Mahatma Gandhi

In matters of conscience, the law of the majority has no place. Mahatma Gandhi

“The invasion of privacy is of no consequence because privacy is not a fundamental right and has no meaning under Article 21. The right to privacy is not a guaranteed under the constitution, because privacy is not a fundamental right.” Article 21 of the Indian constitution refers to the right to life and liberty -Attorney General Mukul Rohatgi

“There is merit in the complaints. You are unwittingly allowing snooping, harassment and commercial exploitation. The information about an individual obtained by the UIDAI while issuing an Aadhaar card shall not be used for any other purpose, save as above, except as may be directed by a court for the purpose of criminal investigation.” -A three judge bench headed by Justice J Chelameswar said in an interim order.

Legal scholar Usha Ramanathan describes UID as an inverse of sunshine laws like the Right to Information. While the RTI makes the state transparent to the citizen, the UID does the inverse: it makes the citizen transparent to the state, she says.

Good idea gone bad
I have written earlier that UID/Aadhaar was a poorly designed, unreliable and expensive solution to the really good idea of providing national identification for over a billion Indians. My petition contends that UID in its current form violates the right to privacy of a citizen, guaranteed under Article 21 of the Constitution. This is because sensitive biometric and demographic information of citizens are with enrolment agencies, registrars and sub-registrars who have no legal liability for any misuse of this data. This petition has opened up the larger discussion on privacy rights for Indians. The current Article 21 interpretation by the Supreme Court was done decades ago, before the advent of internet and today’s technology and all the new privacy challenges that have arisen as a consequence.
Rajeev Chandrasekhar, MP Rajya Sabha

“What is Aadhaar? There is enormous confusion. That Aadhaar will identify people who are entitled for subsidy. No. Aadhaar doesn’t determine who is eligible and who isn’t,” Jairam Ramesh

But Aadhaar has been mythologised during the previous government by its creators into some technology super force that will transform governance in a miraculous manner. I even read an article recently that compared Aadhaar to some revolution and quoted a 1930s historian, Will Durant. Rajeev Chandrasekhar, Rajya Sabha MP

“I know you will say that it is not mandatory. But, it is compulsorily mandatorily voluntary,” Jairam Ramesh, Rajya Saba April 2017.

August 24, 2017: The nine-judge Constitution Bench rules that right to privacy is “intrinsic to life and liberty” and is inherently protected under the various fundamental freedoms enshrined under Part III of the Indian Constitution

"Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the World; indeed it's the only thing that ever has"

“Arguing that you don’t care about the right to privacy because you have nothing to hide is no different than saying you don’t care about free speech because you have nothing to say.” - Edward Snowden


Here is what the Parliament Standing Committee on Finance, which examined the draft N I A Bill said.

1. There is no feasibility study of the project]

2. The project was approved in haste

3. The system has far-reaching consequences for national security

4. The project is directionless with no clarity of purpose

5. It is built on unreliable and untested technology

6. The exercise becomes futile in case the project does not continue beyond the present number of 200 million enrolments

7. There is lack of coordination and difference of views between various departments and ministries of government on the project


What was said before the elections:

NPR & UID aiding Aliens – Narendra Modi

"I don't agree to Nandan Nilekeni and his madcap (UID) scheme which he is trying to promote," Senior BJP Leader Yashwant Sinha, Sept 2012

"All we have to show for the hundreds of thousands of crore spent on Aadhar is a Congress ticket for Nilekani" Yashwant Sinha.(27/02/2014)

TV Mohandas Pai, former chief financial officer and head of human resources, tweeted: "selling his soul for power; made his money in the company wedded to meritocracy." Money Life Article

Nilekani’s reporting structure is unprecedented in history; he reports directly to the Prime Minister, thus bypassing all checks and balances in government - Home Minister Chidambaram

To refer to Aadhaar as an anti corruption tool despite overwhelming evidence to the contrary is mystifying. That it is now officially a Rs.50,000 Crores solution searching for an explanation is also without any doubt. -- Statement by Rajeev Chandrasekhar, MP & Member, Standing Committee on Finance

Finance minister P Chidambaram’s statement, in an exit interview to this newspaper, that Aadhaar needs to be re-thought completely is probably the last nail in its coffin. :-) Financial Express

The Rural Development Ministry headed by Jairam Ramesh created a road Block and refused to make Aadhaar mandatory for making wage payment to people enrolled under the world’s largest social security scheme NRGA unless all residents are covered.

Friday, October 2, 2015

8788 - Modi govt goes all out for Aadhaar - LIve Mint

Last Modified: Thu, Oct 01 2015. 11 39 AM IST

More departments to approach Supreme Court for review of interim order; PM Narendra Modi to personally review Aadhaar enrolment

Saurabh Kumar

On Wednesday, Narendra Modi called a meeting of state secretaries as well as other stakeholders in the Aadhaar unique identity number programme and asked them to push ahead with their enrolment initiative. Photo: Bloomberg

New Delhi: Prime Minister Narendra Modi and his National Democratic Alliance (NDA) government are pulling out all the stops to ensure that the Aadhaar number doesn’t lose relevance in the face of a legal challenge to its use.

On Wednesday, soon after his return from the US, Modi called a meeting of state secretaries as well as other stakeholders in the Aadhaar unique identity number programme and asked them to push ahead with their enrolment initiative. The Prime Minister asked the states to complete the enrolment by December; he will personally review the progress every month. Thus far, 920 million people have been enrolled in the project.

A government official familiar with the matter said the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (Trai), Insurance Regulatory and Development Authority, Pension Fund Regulatory and Development Authority and the state governments of Maharasthtra, Jharkhand and Chhattisgarh will also seek a review from the Supreme Court of its 11 August interim order restricting the use of Aadhaar to paying subsidies for the public distribution system and cooking gas.

That follows Tuesday’s united defence of Aadhaar in the Supreme Court by the Unique Identification Authority of India (UIDAI), Securities and Exchange Board of India (Sebi), Reserve Bank of India (RBI) and the state of Gujarat—all, again, sought a review of the order, which has jeopardized the government’s Digital India plan as well as the country’s move to a cashless economy.

In total, there will be 11 such review petitions, the official added, speaking on condition of anonymity.

On Tuesday, the bench adjourned the hearing to 6 October and is likely to decide whether the case can now be heard by the same three-judge bench or if it should be heard by a larger constitution bench to which the case has been referred. Supreme Court chief justice H.L. Dattu is yet to notify the constitution of a larger bench to hear the matter. The 11 August interim order did not ask the government to stop the process of enrolment.

Rarely have so many regulators and state governments approached the Supreme Court for such a review.

A second person familiar with the developments who spoke on condition of anonymity said that apart from highlighting the utility of Aadhaar, this is also a move to clearly delineate the powers of the executive from those of the judiciary. Indeed, over the past decade, courts have repeatedly stepped into the realm of policy-making—something that the Modi government hopes to stop.

Interestingly, while addressing the Indian community at SAP Centre in San Jose, California, on Monday, Modi emphasized the utility of Aadhaar in saving subsidies given for liquefied petroleum gas cylinders. He had said that India is moving ahead with “JAM of all”, short for Jan Dhan (a scheme to give people no-frills bank accounts), Aadhaar and mobile governance. He also said that giving a unique number to each citizen will help eliminate duplication in providing government benefits.
Under the Aadhaar-based direct benefit transfer (DBT) for LPG, or Pahal Scheme, so far 142.5 million beneficiaries have received Rs.25,795.93 crore in their bank accounts since the scheme was relaunched in November 2014. The government expects to save Rs.15,000 crore in leakages in LPG subsidy every year.

Also, as reported by Mint on 25 September, the government expects to save 40% of the subsidy through DBT in foodgrains, which will be an annual saving of around Rs.50,000 crore (mintne.ws/1KC83qG).

A Trai official who did not want to be identified confirmed that the telecom regulator was moving an application before the Supreme Court on the subject. The regulator wants a clarification on whether telecom subscribers can use Aadhaar as identity proof. As of July 2015, the total mobile subscriber base of the country was 983.21 million.

The first government official said that states have been directed to set up camps in schools and maternal and child welfare centres, especially in rural areas, to enrol children in the Aadhaar programme.

“Out of the 350 million or so people who do not have Aadhaar, around 250 million are people below the age of 18 years. This population does not have proper government identity and the enrolment drive will focus on this. The Prime Minister believes that Aadhaar is a transformational tool and an enabler,” the official said.

Of the 920 million Aadhaar enrolments, 240 million have been done after the current National Democratic Alliance government came in to power in May 2014, said the first government official quoted above.

As of now, Aadhaar number has been seeded for various government schemes such as Jeevan Pramaan, DigiLocker, scholarships, Jan Suraksha Schemes, passports and voter’s identity cards, among others.

The Supreme Court’s 11 August order came in response to several petitions that questioned whether the mandatory use of Aadhaar for various government welfare schemes discriminates against those who don’t have the number, and concerns related to privacy and abuse of the Aadhaar database.

Although the Supreme Court didn’t stop the process of enrolment under Aadhaar, a petitioner in the case who did not want to be identified said the enrolment cannot be forced or mandatory. “We have collected instances of the court’s order being violated and we will submit it to the court in the next hearing,” the petitioner said.

The idea of Aadhaar numbers, issued by UIDAI, was hatched during the rule of the United Progressive Alliance government. The project currently doesn’t have legislative backing.
Apurva Vishwanath contributed to this story.