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.


Monday, July 18, 2016

10160 - Why Aadhaar Is A Perversion Of The Constitution - Huffington Post


21/06/2016 8:29 AM IST | 


Advocate, New Delhi

GETTY vector illustration Fingerprint unlock smart phone

India has one of the longest Constitutions in the World. Dr. Ambedkar explained the reasons for its length by referring to the principle of "constitutional morality". In his speech in the Constituent Assembly delivered on 4 November, 1948, he said:


"[T]he form of the administration must be appropriate to and in the same sense as the form of the Constitution... [It] is perfectly possible to pervert the Constitution, without changing its form by merely changing the form of the administration and to make it inconsistent and opposed to the spirit of the Constitution. It follows that it is only where people are saturated with Constitutional morality such as the one described by Grote the historian that one can take the risk of omitting from the Constitution details of administration and leaving it for the Legislature to prescribe them.... Constitutional morality is not a natural sentiment. It has to be cultivated. We must realize that our people have yet to learn it."

He further explained that the Indian Constitution lays down various facets of administration in greater detail as a way to pre-empt any perversion or subversion of the Constitution's meaning.

[T]he government has introduced an "unconstitutional condition" which involves barter of privacy rights in order to secure benefits that the State is obliged to provide anyway...

However, I believe that both the previous and present governments are guilty of subverting the Constitution -- substantively and procedurally -- in the context of the Aadhaar and Unique Identification (UID) projects.

The administration of the UID Project is nothing if not opaque. Personal information is collected from residents without clearly informing them about the repercussions, and without a data protection law in place. The Aadhaar card is being "marketed" as another proof of identity, without adequately disclosing that its use may result in perpetual mass digital surveillance, with no option to exit. What is worse is that there is no disclosure of the possible commercial use of the data collected.

Further, by making financial disbursements in social schemes contingent upon the possession of the Aadhaar 'card' and Aadhaar-linked bank accounts, the government has introduced an "unconstitutional condition" which involves barter of privacy rights in order to secure benefits that the State is obliged to provide anyway - even if the person in question is homeless or legally nondescript. What is worse is that there is no legislative authorization to compulsorily collect personal data which renders a person subject to the vagaries of unbridled executive power.

The UID Project, introduced initially for the border districts of the country, was extended to cover all of India by the previous UPA government -- without first fully understanding and explaining its implications. The project was rejected in 2011 by the 42nd Parliamentary Standing Committee on Finance chaired by Sri Yashwant Sinha, a former finance minister belonging to the BJP, who stated that "Unique Identification (UID) Scheme is riddled with serious lacunae and concern..." This rejection was re-asserted by subsequent committees as well.

Despite the stay granted by the Supreme Court, governments and their instrumentalities have used soft-force to universalize the UID Project.

At the time when the 42nd Parliamentary Standing Committee on Finance was considering Aadhaar, the UID Bill was pending in Parliament, having been craftily introduced by the UPA government in the Rajya Sabha so that it did not lapse and remained unaffected by political turbulence.

Activists, academicians and scholars had then objected to the collection of personal data of individuals without being first authorized by a valid law enacted by Parliament. It was pointed out to the then UPA government that it was impermissible to proceed with the execution of the Aadhaar Project while a Bill to authorize the same was pending before the Parliament. However, the then attorney general had opined (and incorrectly so, in my view) that the executive powers of the government permit it to go ahead. In his words:

"...the present Bill being implemented without Parliaments' approval does not set a bad precedent in the Parliamentary form of Government. On the contrary, the fact that the Authority is sought to be converted from an Executive Authority to a statutory authority, it underlines the supremacy of Parliament."

The Parliamentary Standing Committee on Finance had concluded:

"The Committee is constrained to point out that in the instant case, since the law making is underway with the bill being pending, any executive action is as unethical and violative of Parliament's prerogative as promulgation of an ordinance while one of the Houses of Parliament being in session."

Earlier, during the UPA government's tenure, the BJP and its ideologues had openly and fervently opposed the idea of a Unique Identity Card. But when the BJP came to power, it changed its tune. Prime Minister Modi's government proselytized its purported usefulness and capabilities, and was quick to adopt the UID Project. Similarly, while it criticized the UPA government rather theatrically for MGNREGA which also utilized the Aadhaar based platform, the BJP government went on to embrace it later. The Prime Minister's Jan Dhan Yojana and other such schemes aimed to utilize the Aadhaar platform as well.

In my view, it is unconscionable for any government in the contemporary world to contend that privacy is not a fundamental right.

Despite the stay granted by the Supreme Court, governments and their instrumentalities have used soft-force to universalize the UID Project. It appears that the extent to which the present government has gone to defend the UID Project surpasses the methods deployed by the previous regime to promote it. Before the Supreme Court last year, in order to justify the UID Project and repel the ground of "invasion of privacy", the government contended that it is not a settled position in India that the right to privacy is a fundamental right guaranteed under the Constitution. It was further argued that in the present times when a person could be tracked down with his cell phone, it was futile to contend that use of Aadhaar card would leave a trail that would allow perpetual surveillance.

In my view, it is unconscionable for any government in the contemporary world to contend that privacy is not a fundamental right. In doing so and in being able to send the Aadhaar case in the Supreme Court before a larger bench to decide whether privacy is a fundamental right in India, the present-day government has pushed our democracy back in time. The sheet anchor for the UPA as well as the BJP government has been the argument that by means of Aadhaar they have been able to eliminate a large number of "ghost beneficiaries" and save government money. There is, however, no means to independently verify the statistics so presented. This is most important because statistics have a sincere tendency to obfuscate.

Aadhaar and its implementation... [establish] that "Constitutional morality is not a natural sentiment... and our people have yet to learn it."

Way back in 2011, the Ministry of Planning had taken a categorical stand before the Standing Committee on Finance that "no Committee has been set up to study the financial implications of the UID scheme. As per laid down guidelines/procedure the Expenditure Finance Committee reviews project proposals and its financial implications..."

The manner in which the previous and present governments have dealt with the Constitutional checks in the implementation of the UID Project is far from satisfactory. Aadhaar and its implementation are a classic case study of political opportunism and perversion of both letter and spirit of the Constitution. It establishes, in the words of Dr. Ambedkar that "Constitutional morality is not a natural sentiment... and our people have yet to learn it."