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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Tuesday, January 31, 2017

10797 - From Aadhaar to Jallikattu, why is everyone ignoring the Supreme Court? - Scroll.In

As the country's topmost court expands its powers and enters the domain of the executive, its authority might be starting to wear out.

Published Jan 18, 2017 · 06:30 pm.  

Image credit:  Sajad Hussain / AFP

In 2014, the Supreme Court struck down Tamil Nadu state’s Regulation of Jallikattu Act thus banning the ancient Tamil sport played during the harvest festival of Pongal. The reaction to this in the days leading up to Pongal 2017 was remarkable. The state’s chief minister O Panneerselvam himself was, it seems, keen on the court’s order being circumvented, remarking four days before the festival that he would “not back off” and “ensure that Jallikattu is held”.
Moreover, multiple news reports on Monday confirmed that the bull taming sport had indeed been held across several places in the state.
That a Supreme Court order was so publicly ignored is remarkable. What makes the issue even more significant is that this seems to now be developing into a trend, with a string of high-profile cases recently where the administration has directly disobeyed the apex court. While some of this has to do with the court over stretching its own field of operation, larger societal factors leading to an overall diminishing of the rule of law may also be to blame.

Thumbing your nose
For some time now, governments have wanted to make Aadhaar, a biometric identity card issued by the Union government, compulsory for a range of services. Right now, the Aadhaar card is required for students taking the Indian Institute of Technology entrance exam, and for benefits under the Employees’ Pension Scheme, which is part of the Employees’ Provident Fund, amongst other services. From April, senior citizens wanting to get a concession on Indian Railways will also have to provide an Aadhaar number.

This is in spite of the Supreme Court making it clear in August, 2015, that Aadhaar cannot be made mandatory for any government service. The Supreme Court’s response to these blatant violations was to simply delay the hearing of cases which challenged the legitimacy of Aadhaar. In effect, the Union government got away with violating the apex court’s order banning the making of Aadhaar mandatory for public services.

In September, 2015, Karnataka disregarded Supreme Court orders to release Cauvery water to Tamil Nadu. So blatant was this defiance that the Karnataka Assembly even made sure that it convened a special session to specifically pass a resolution – supported by every party in the House – which communicated the state’s decision to ignore the court’s orders. Matters reached a pass where Karnataka’s counsel Fali Nariman refused to plead his own client’s case in protest at Karnataka’s defiance. Like with Aadhaar, the Supreme Court did not punish anyone for this blatant contempt.

Rule of law?
Some of this disregard for the Supreme Court stems from a growing contempt for rule of law as a whole in Indian society. Since 1992, for example, the Union government has started the practice of repromulgating ordinances. Given that an ordinance is only meant to be a temporary law, this practise effectively takes away powers from Parliament, whose job it is to legislate.
In December, 2016, the Union government issued the Enemy Property Ordinance for the fifth time, making it clear that it does not trust Parliament and its elected representatives to legislate on the matter.

In Bihar, a leader in this sphere, ordinances could comfortably outlast multiple chief ministers. Most famously, the Bihar Sugarcane Ordinance held fort for 14 years without even once feeling the need to enter the legislature.

Lawyer Alok Prasanna Kumar points out that governments seem to have given up on rule of law. “Recently, Union government ministers and officials were quite open to threatening Amazon even though no explicit laws had been violated,” said Kumar.

Judicial overreach
More specific to the judiciary, however, is the tendency of the Supreme Court of India to widely expand its powers and intrude into the governance function of the executive. It has often functioned as a populist court responding to English-language press reports and the opinion of the middle class.

In the past, the Supreme Court has tackled pollution in Delhi, put a cap on the height of Mumbai’s dahi handi human pyramids, and pushed river inter-linking. The dividing line between the executive function and the judicial one has, therefore, been completely blurred.

Anuj Bhuwania, academic and author of the book, Courting the People: Public Interest Litigation in Post-Emergency India, says this expansion of the court’s powers erodes its legitimacy.
“The judiciary has to be careful in these situations,” said Bhuwania. “In its eagerness to be an instrument for social reform and enter into the domain of the executive and legislature, it’s going past its limited role as a constitutional court. And it’s really not equipped to do this.”

While it might expand its powers in courtrooms, ultimately, the Supreme Court needs to depend on executive branches of government for those powers to be exercised on the ground.

For instance, in cases like the one regarding Jallikattu – where the Supreme Court overturned both Union and state laws – at the end of the day, the court needed to depend on the Tamil Nadu government for its order to be implemented.

In the 2006 Prakash Singh judgement, the court ordered large-scale police reforms, taking on a clear governance role. Yet, even as it stepped into the shoes of the executive, the court was not in a position to actually implement its own orders. 

Politicians and bureaucrats across India simply ignored the judgement – which would have reduced the powers of elected governments over the police – and the court itself was either unwilling or unable to penalise this defiance.

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