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.


Sunday, March 13, 2016

9501 - Breaking parliamentary rules to legislate Aadhaar is a dangerous move. - Economic and Political Weekly


In a belated move to confer legitimacy on the Aadhaar programme, carried out till now without any legislative provision, the ruling National Democratic Alliance (NDA) introduced the Aadhaar (Targeted Delivery of Financial and Other Subsidies, Benefits and Services) Bill, 2016. Questions and concerns on its contents apart, the fact that the government chose to define it as a money bill and thus ensure its passage as a law by only having to secure majority support in the lower house raises concerns that matter to the constitutional scheme. That successive regimes went about issuing unique identification (UID) numbers all these years—and claim that about 95% of the adult population have already been covered—raises questions of whether we remain a constitutional democracy.

Such a statement may sound extreme. But given the impunity with which union governments have gone about this massive project without parliamentary approval, what else can one infer but that of brazen disregard for constitutional mores. 

Furthermore, in this instance, the Lok Sabha speaker’s decision, exercising powers under Article 110(3) of the Constitution to allow its introduction as a money bill is indeed faulty.

This time the government is doing what it attempted previously in 2015 but then backtracked. In last year’s Union Budget, it sneaked in a provision on the monetary policy committee
of the Reserve Bank of India in the Finance Bill 2015, a money bill. In the face of opposition, the government scrapped that provision after introduction of the bill. This time it hopes to
go further.

The decision is faulty not only by the spirit of the Constitution, it is even so by the letter of the law. Article 110(2), which shall form the basis for the speaker arriving at a decision on whether a bill is a money bill or not, was clearly overlooked by the current Speaker Sumitra Mahajan. To paraphrase, the provision holds that a bill shall not be deemed to be a money bill by reason only that it provides for augmenting revenue collection or disbursal of money or services. This, incidentally, is the argument raised by the government too, that Aadhaar will save money. But, the Aadhaar project has implications for the rights of citizens, including the right to privacy since the UID project, even according to its votaries, addresses concerns of national security.

The discourse hitherto on this has brought out two issues. One, to effect a paradigmatic shift from the “welfare” state paradigm to an “enabling” state. Two, that this project was initially conceived as a security requirement in the aftermath of the Kargil war by the then NDA government and this concept is indeed what is behind the 12-digit UID number; each individual is given a unique number which is stored in a centralised database linked to that individual’s demographic and biometric information. Anyone who has merely read the newspaper will know of the inordinate interest of the Ministry of Home Affairs and the various intelligence agencies in the Aadhaar card. Clearly, the Aadhaar project is not merely one about facilitating direct cash transfers but has implications for the constitutional guarantees of life and liberty, including the right to privacy.
It may be that this right is not absolute and that like all other fundamental rights, the citizen’s right to privacy may be restricted. Such an agreement, however, will have to be based on a harmonious interpretation of the law for which the arguments for and against imposing such a restriction will have to be debated. The forum for such a debate is Parliament, particularly in times like the present, when political consensus has been so fragmented. To keep the Rajya Sabha out through a veritable sleight of hand may appear politically expedient to the present government but is a dangerous precedent which weakens parliamentary democracy. For all these reasons and many more, the Aadhaar (Targeted Delivery of Financial and Other Subsidies, Benefits and Services) Bill, 2016, should not have been treated as a money bill if the idea of India as a constitutional democracy is to be preserved.

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