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


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.


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Wednesday, March 9, 2016

9462 - The Rights and Wrongs of Aadhaar as a Money Bill - The Wire



The move by the Narendra Modi-led government to introduce the Aadhaar Bill as a money bill has got politicians, constitutional experts and rights activists worried. Many believe the government’s decision to introduce the money bill is aimed at bypassing any opposition in the Rajya Sabha, where the BJP and its allies are in a minority. The move is being termed by some as “colourable legislation”, wherein under guise of power conferred for a particular purpose, the legislature seeks to achieve another purpose, for which it is otherwise not competent to legislate on. Also, the government ostensibly did not want the Bill to meet the same fate as the Goods and Services Tax Bill in the Rajya Sabha.

Many policy-watchers are worried by the government’s attempts to push through a legislation that poses risks to the privacy and security of individuals, and the military security of the country. Concerns about the sharing and misuse of collected data have still not been addressed.

The Aadhaar Bill
The bill was first introduced as The National Identification Authority of India (NIDAI) Bill in the upper house of parliament on December 3, 2010 by the UPA government. A week later it was referred by the Lok Sabha speaker to the Standing Committee on Finance, but it could not become a law. The NIDAI Bill was finally withdrawn by the government from Rajya Sabha hours after Finance Minister Arun Jaitley introduced The Aadhaar (Target Delivery of Financial and Other Subsidies, Benefits and Services) Bill, 2016 on March 3.

Jaitley claims the Aadhaar Bill seeks to provide statutory backing for the transfer of government subsidies and benefits, and to put in place a regulatory framework to protect the core biometric information of Aadhaar cardholders from any unauthorised disclosure or sharing. The government has been keen on pressing for this legislation as about 95% of the adult population has already been covered and about 98 crore unique identity or Aadhaar numbers have been issued.

Jaitley defended the introduction of the money bill – on which the Rajya Sabha can only make recommendations but no amendments and which has to be returned to Lok Sabha within 14 days else it is considered approved – on the grounds that it was significantly different from the previous version.  

The finance minister contended that it satisfied the requirements of a money bill laid down by Article 110 of the Constitution. Recalling how the Congress had in the 1980s brought legislations relating to juvenile justice and workman injury compensation as money bills, Jaitley said it was for the speaker to decide if the Aadhaar Bill qualified as a money bill.

Alluding to the importance of the Bill, Parliamentary Affairs Minister M Venkaiah Naidu told the lower house that it would result in saving of 20,000 crore rupees by avoiding the leakage of subsidies. The government is also keen on the legislation as direct cash transfers related to subsidies and services are expected to grow substantially in the future.

Opposition to the money bill
The introduction of the bill was opposed by Congress members Mallikarjun Kharge and Jyotiraditya Scindia, who demanded that the Aadhaar Bill should go to the Rajya Sabha too, as it impacted the lives of all citizens. Biju Janata Dal’s Bhartruhari Mahtab, who was a member of the panel to which the earlier bill was referred, said, “There are many contentious issues related to Aadhaar number and so the matter was also referred to the Supreme Court.” However, Speaker Sumitra Mahajan allowed the introduction of the Bill.

Senior opposition leaders continued their protest outside the House, questioning the logic of introducing a money bill. Sitaram Yechury of the CPI(M) was among the most vocal in criticising the manner of introduction.

“It is not a money bill. The whole Rajya Sabha has taken that position. The position is that you cannot decide on money bills according to your own whims and fancies. My personal view is there is one clause in the Constitution, which stipulates that in the case of a dispute over a money bill, the ruling of the Speaker is final and binding. That clause is what is being misused today. So, personally in my opinion that clause should go from the Constitution…You find another adjudicating authority because the Speaker of the Lok Sabha, unlike the Chairman of the Rajya Sabha, is one of the elected members of Parliament. Elected on the ticket of one particular political party. And if that political party forms the government then you will always have such predicaments,” Yechury was quoted as saying.

Deputy Leader of the Congress in the Rajya Sabha Anand Sharma also questioned the logic behind the new bill. “If a bill is exclusively dealing with revenues or taxes, then you can categorise that as a money bill. But we find it very strange that where there is only transfer of benefits using the Aadhaar card or the identity of the person concerned or the services of the state…you categorise that also as a money bill. You are talking about cooperative federalism and you are cutting out the Council of states.”

Privacy and security issues
The opposition to the Aadhaar scheme stems from the fears surrounding the issues of personal liberty and national security. Gopal Krishna of the Citizens Forum for Civil Liberties – which has been campaigning against the biometric information-based Aadhaar scheme since 2010 and had appeared before the Yashwant Sinha-headed Parliamentary Committee to give its testimony – who, while referring to the contents of SpyChips: How Major Corporations and Government Plan to Track Your Every Move with RFID (radio frequency identification) by Katherine Albrecht and Liz McIntyre, said, “It is apparent that RFID and UID/aadhaar projects are going to do almost exactly the same thing which the predecessors of Adolf Hitler did, else how is it that Germany always had the lists of Jewish names even prior to the arrival of the Nazis? The Nazis got these lists with the help of IBM which was in the ‘census’ business that included racial census that entailed not only count the Jews but also identifying them. At the US Holocaust Museum in Washington, DC, there is an exhibit of an IBM Hollerith D-11 card sorting machine that was responsible for organising the census of 1933 that first identified the Jews.”

Another major area of concern is the possibility, however small, of the centralised database being handed over to other governments or enemies by someone who works closely with it, or that it would get stolen, as it had in Greece.

If these fears of profiling, selective targeting through the use of technology and theft or misuse of data persisted when the bill was first introduced by the Congress-led government, they have only grown with the Modi government trying to move it with reduced scrutiny.

In fact in the wake of his phone being allegedly tapped in 2013, Jaitley had in an article clearly elucidated his concerns about how Aadhaar could be used as a tool to violate someone’s right to privacy. “This incident throws up another legitimate fear. We are now entering the era of the Aadhaar number. The Government has recently made the existence of the Aadhaar number as a condition precedent for undertaking several activities; from registering marriages to execution of property documents. Will those who encroach upon the affairs of others be able to get access to bank accounts and other important details by breaking into the system? If this ever becomes possible the consequences would be far messier,” said the senior BJP leader, who was the leader of the opposition in the Rajya Sabha at that time.

What could have prompted him to change tacks now? The answer probably lies in the government being unable to mandatorily link the Aadhaar number scheme to various subsidy schemes and services. In October 2015, the Supreme Court had categorically stated that the use of the Aadhaar card would only be allowed on voluntary basis for government schemes.


Subsequently on December 1, 2015 the Standing Committee on Finance, under the chairmanship of Veerappa Moily, had found the “reply of the Ministry on the pending legislation on UIDAI to be repetitive.’’ Observing that it ”had time and again urged the Government to address the key issues related to the UIDAI Bill, particularly in light of recent Supreme Court Judgment,” it had exhorted the Government to immediately address the key issues relating to Unique Identification Authority of India and initiate measures for early legislation on the subject.