uid

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

Special

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

Quotes

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.


Saturday, December 12, 2015

9163 - CJI moots extra constitution bench sittings to clear backlog - Live Mint

Last Modified: Fri, Dec 11 2015. 12 40 AM IST

CJI moots extra constitution bench sittings to clear backlog

Thakur, hearing oral mentioning of cases, said pending cases could come up sequentially for regular hearing of constitution benches


If the court takes up cases in order of their filing, the Aadhaar case could be one of the last to be heard. Photo: Priyanka Parashar/Mint

New Delhi: The constitution bench of the Supreme Court could sit for two hours on Mondays and Fridays to complete hearing on pending cases, chief justice of India T.S. Thakur said on Thursday.

“On Mondays and Fridays, judges get free by 1pm-1.30pm. We can request judges to stay back to hear constitution bench cases,” chief justice Thakur said.
Constitution benches consist of at least five judges of the apex court and decide on any case that warrants a substantial question of law and needs interpretation of the Constitution of India.

Thakur, hearing oral mentioning of cases, said pending cases could come up sequentially for regular hearing of constitution benches.
The Aadhaar unique identity case is one such case pending before the court. Being the most recent, and if the court takes up cases in order of their filing, it could be one of the last to be taken up.
The apex court had restricted the use of Aadhaar numbers to certain schemes through two orders issued on 11 August and 15 October. These include the public distribution system, distribution of cooking gas and kerosene, the rural jobs guarantee scheme, the Pradhan Mantri Jan Dhan Yojana, central and state government pensions, and the Employees’ Provident Fund Scheme.
There is also a question on the bench strength—will the court set up a 9- or 11-judge bench, or will it first go to a five-judge bench? The court needs to rule on the issue of whether the right to privacy is a fundamental right.
From 1950, the number of constitution benches being set up have declined. According to a study on the disposal rates of constitution bench cases in the Supreme Court since independence, published in the Economic and Political Weekly in February 2011, the court heard around 100 cases decided by a bench of five or more judges in the 1960s, but this figure fell to nine in the early 2000s.
The study looked at cases which were referred to a constitution bench from 1950 to 2009.
In addition, only 27% of constitution bench cases were decided within two years of filing in the 2000s; and 37% took more than eight years.
Nick Robinson, who authored the study, said that the trend hadn’t changed in the last few years.
“I do think that there has not been a noticeable uptick in the number of constitution benches that have been heard in recent years. There are some CJIs that hear more and some that hear less under their tenure, but in general, the court is hearing very few such cases,” Robinson said.
For 2010-15, Mint’s research turned up similar numbers. In the last six years, there have been 51 five-judge bench cases. However, no case was heard by a bench larger than five. One referral to a seven-judge bench in 2010 remains pending.
In fact, according to the Supreme Court website, as on 1 March, there are 29 constitution bench matters pending.
This is not to say that some cases are not expedited by the apex court. The much talked about National Judicial Appointments Commission case, which was referred to a five-judge bench on 7 April was decided on 16 October after day-to-day hearings (including that during the court’s holiday).
As far as Aadhaar is concerned, given that several key government projects hang in the balance, the government is likely to push for early setting up of the bench. In fact, several state governments, government departments and regulatory agencies had put up a joint defence seeking a modification of the 11 August interim order.
But there seems to be little hope. “We don’t know when the bench will be constituted and we are not expecting that it will happen anytime soon,” said an Unique Identification Authority of India (UIDAI) official requesting anonymity.
Given the track record of the judiciary, it seems that the Aadhaar privacy issue may not be solved anytime soon. So what option does the government have to salvage the programme quickly?
“The National Identification Authority of India Bill, 2010, is already there. Why not get it passed in the Rajya Sabha? The whole fight around Aadhaar is because it does not have legislative backing,” said the UIDAI official, who declined to be named.
UIDAI has been functioning under an executive order issued by the government in January 2009. Though the Bill was brought by the United Progressive Alliance government in 2010, a Yashwant Sinha-headed standing committee on finance did not accept it.
“There is no bar on the government from bringing in legislation for Aadhaar. But whenever the law comes in, it will still have to stand the test of constitutionality (once challenged before a court). If the issue is of privacy, which in this case it seems to be, then a right of privacy granted by statute will obviously stand at a lower footing than that emanating from the Constitution,” said Rahul Singh, a research scholar at Balliol College, University of Oxford. He added that the petitioners would likely ask for protection of privacy under the Constitution. According to him, the Constitution bench has its task cut out.
Although the government has dropped hints that Aadhaar may soon have a legal basis, the bill has not been brought forward for discussion in the current winter session of Parliament.
Speaking at the Delhi Economics Conclave on 6 November, finance minister Arun Jaitley said, “We can’t have a situation where Aadhaar is acceptable for certain measures to be adopted by the government, but not acceptable for other kinds of measures.”
The UIDAI official said that given that data has been collected for so many people, it needs a law for the data to be protected. “If the Aadhaar proposition is to be a winner, the government should immediately bring in a law. It will end all uncertainty,” he added.
Nevertheless, even if the government does not bring in the law, whenever the court hears the issue, there is hope for Aadhaar—according to the study cited earlier, in 60% of the cases referred to constitution benches between 1960s and 2000s, the respondent won. In the Aadhaar case, the government is the respondent.