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, April 3, 2017

10932 - Aadhaar legal tangle: Govt can be taken to task for contempt of court; experts wonder why SC didn't - First Post




Aadhaar legal tangle: Govt can be taken to task for contempt of court; experts wonder why SC didn't
Mar, 28 2017 10:15:11 IST

With the latest directive from the Supreme Court, Aadhaar, an identity project that many suspect has turned into a surveillance mechanis, has become legal tangle, heightening the public's concern over its validity.

A bench headed by Chief Justice J S Kehar and Justices D Y Chandrachud and S K Kaul on Monday reiterated that the government cannot press Aadhaar for social welfare schemes. However, they said the government and its agencies cannot be stopped from seeking Aadhaar cards for non-welfare schemes like opening of bank accounts.

This is not the first time the Supreme Court has made such an observation. The apex court on 15 October, 2015 had lifted its earlier restrictions and permitted voluntary use of Aadhar cards in welfare schemes that also included MGNREGA, all pension schemes and provident fund, besides ambitious flagship programmes like 'Pradhan Mantri Jan Dhan Yojna' of the NDA government, PTI reported.

The Supreme Court in its 2013 order had directed that ‘no person should suffer for not getting the Aadhaar card', inspite of the fact that some authority had issued a circular making it mandatory.

While the Supreme Court is clear that enrolling for Aadhaar is not mandatory, through Section 7 of the Aadhaar Act passed by Parliament this March, the government of India has effectively made Aadhaar enrollment mandatory for receiving any subsidy, benefit or service for which expenditure is borne out of the Consolidated Fund of India, the ET reported.

Reuters
The latest directive by the court comes at a time when the government is issuing notification after notification, in a hurry to make the Aadhaar an integral part of the economic and social system of the country. And experts, from the left to the right end of political spectrum, have raised serious concerns about the move.

Undermining SC
"By making Aadhaar compulsory, the government is undermining the SC authority. It is unfortunate that the SC has not come down heavily on the government," said Alok Prasanna Kumar, an advocate based in Bengaluru. "It is not possible to change a SC order by legislation." The reason why the constitution bench heard the Aadhaar case was because it was a constitutional matter considering the scope and extent of privacy guaranteed under the constitution, he remarked.

With its latest observation on Aadhaar, the Supreme Court has gone against the Aadhaar Act, said Jehangir Gai, consumer activist. "The Act is for availing government subsidy only," he said. For the government to insist that you need to give personal data to avail of subsidy is a intrusion, he said, adding that the government is 'supposed' to work in accordance with the legal framework but is instead flouting it.

The NDA government enacted the Aaadhar (Targeted Delivery of Financial and Other Subsidies, Benefits and Services) Act, 2016, in March 2016 in a bid to provide legal sanctity for the system even as the case was being heard in the apex court.
The government has been proved to be wrong again and again on this issue, points out Gopal Krishna of the Citizens Forum for Civil Liberties (CFCL). Earlier in the National Scholarship case and then in the Lokniti Foundation vs Union of India case.
“The central government had told the Supreme court that it was following the SC’s September 2013 order regarding Aadhaar cards making it not mandatory and yet it is going on about doing just that,” he said.

He feels the government's attempt is to replace the constitutional guarantees with Aadhaar. "There is no need to replace what is granted under the constitution with what the government now purports to give under its Aadhaar scheme,” he said.

What has many worried is the fact that the Supreme Court has not taken action against the government for committing contempt of court by making Aadhaar mandatory for essential services.
"The court was perfectly clear in its order that Aadhaar cannot be mandatory," said Chinmayi Arun, Assistant Professor of Law at National Law University Delhi and Faculty Associate of the Berkman Klein Centre at Harvard University. Filing IT returns is mandatory and linking Aadhaar to it makes Aadhaar mandatory, Arun pointed out.
She suggests that the Supreme Court should order the government to desist from linking Aadhaar to all services. "If our democratic institutions fail us completely, people should protest. In the United States, there are protests everywhere, as there should be in a healthy democracy where the executive ignores the constitution completely.”

Safety issues
For anyone to get an Aadhaar number the details that needs to be submitted include (i) biometric (photograph, finger print, iris scan) and (ii) demographic (name, date of birth, address) information. There is a wealth of information that is gathered by the government through a thumb print and a scary-looking photograph (with most people remotely resembling their photographs on the Aadhaar card) along with biometric information, and one's bank account too linked to it which can be mined by a cyber criminal.
Experts say there are no mechanisms in place to secure the biometrics and other information with the government.
Shailesh Gandhi, former Information Commissioner with the Central Information Commission spoke of not being 'recognised' by the system at two private banks where he tried to verify his Aadhaar number. "When I asked about the failure of the system to recognise me, I was told that only one of every 15-20 persons are recognised by the system. If biometrics do not recognise the individual who has the card, it is a very serious problem. If you cannot verify an Aadhaar card, then you are back to corruption," he said.
However, Gandhi doesn't agree with the concerns about privacy.
Anita Gurumurthy raises a bigger concern of connectivity issues in the rural areas. "You cannot blame anyone as power outages cannot be made an excuse to not give an individual his/her right share from the PDS system," she said.
Before undertaking the exercise that links every service to Aadhaar and coercing people to take it or find themselves out of any scheme, the government should have taken measures to 'strengthen' the ecosystem, said Pavan Duggal, advocate with the Supreme Court and an authority on cyber security law.
“I am concerned about the cyber security ramifications with data being stored in a centralized source. We do not have a dedicated law on privacy and data protection,” said Duggal. The information about citizens at the command of the government is a volcano that can burst when used by unscrupulous elements if they get their hand on to the data.
When the Aaadhar was introduced, it was done through an act of the executive, says Pavan Duggal. From 2009 to 2016, no legislation was passed by Parliament that gave legality to the Aadhaar.
It is the lack of data protection laws in the country that worries most citizens about the misuse of their details that were given for a certain purpose -- to avail of bank accounts, for IT purposes, et al. How does one ensure that consent is not abused.
"We have no mechanism in the country currently to take issue of conflict to an authority. This poses a deep threat. We consent to pay IT and have our files in the public but that information cannot be used by companies to sell cars to us, for instance," said Gurumurthy.
No data protection law
There is not much clarity with regard to UIDAI and cyber rules. "When Aadhaar is made mandatory, it violates an individual’s privacy. Aadhaar deals with biometric information. Under the law, this is sensitive personal data,” contends Duggal.
The government should assure citizens that the information gathered will not be used against the individual except, for instance, if the sovereignty of the nation is threatened, suggest Duggal. Until such exceptions are spelt out, there will always be the fear of the information being misused or targetted against individuals, groups or people by the government itself or any unscrupulous element who are able to lay their hands on it.
What the government is doing by making Aadhaar mandatory is denying the rights of citizens, points out Gopal Krishna of CFCL. The Aadhaar is proof of an individual's residency in India and not of Indian citizenship.

"I don't think Arun Jaitley and the government have examined the implementations of the Supreme Court's directive. It is surprising as Jaitley is a lawyer of repute," says he.