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.


Tuesday, April 4, 2017

10955 - Aadhaar: Government’s Resistance And Supreme Court’s Silence - Bloomberg Quint


March 31, 2017, 12:10 pm

Violation of fundamental rights of equality and privacy, introduction and passing of the Aadhaar Act as a money bill and the collection of biometric data by private entities – these are some grounds for the many pending litigations against India’s unique identification, Aadhaar, framework. Contempt may get added to this list soon, senior advocates BloombergQuint spoke with said.

The Government’s Reliance on Aadhaar
Welfare Schemes
From the rural livelihoods mission scheme to housing subsidies, from nutrition programmes to farmer welfare schemes, from education to disability benefits – for more than 25 central government sponsored welfare schemes, beneficiaries are now required to obtain an Aadhaar number.

To be clear, the government’s notifications mention that it will accept an alternate identification till the beneficiary enrols for Aadhaar. But an imputed deadline could make for confused interpretation.

For instance, a notification by the Ministry of Agriculture and Farmer Welfare on Agri-Clinics and Agri-Business Centres (AC&ABC ) scheme reads:
‘An individual…registered under the AC&ABC scheme is hereby required to furnish proof of possession of Aadhaar number or undergo Aadhaar authentication.’
It further says:
‘Any individual…entitled to receive benefit under the AC&ABC Scheme who does not possess the Aadhaar Number or has not yet enroled for Aadhaar, but are desirous of availing benefits under AC&ABC Scheme, is hereby required to make an application for Aadhaar enrolment by March 31, 2017…’
But also adds this proviso:
‘… till the Aadhaar is assigned to the beneficiaries of AC&ABC Scheme, benefits under the said scheme shall be given to such individual, subject to the production of the following identification documents…’
The notification is unclear on whether a beneficiary, who doesn’t have an Aadhaar number and who fails to register for it by March 31, 2017, can continue to avail benefits under the AC&ABC scheme. The same confusion infects some of the other notifications as well.
So far no one has complained to court of being disadvantaged due to this confusion or being denied benefits due to the lack of an Aadhaar.
Irrespective of whether Aadhaar is made mandatory or not, or a benefit is denied or not, the notification itself is a violation of the Supreme Court order, Senior Advocate and former Additional Solicitor General Sidharth Luthra told BloombergQuint.
Luthra is referring to the 2015 orders of the Supreme Court in which it held that the Aadhaar scheme is ‘purely voluntary’ and that ‘the production of an Aadhaar card will not be a condition for obtaining any benefits otherwise due to a citizen’.
A case of civil contempt can be made out. If an application is filed, the Supreme Court will take very serious note of it. The government won’t be personally held in contempt; it will be the individual officers who are responsible for ensuring that the court’s orders are complied with. Upon the breach, it’s these officers who will be liable for contempt. It’s not a denial of benefit that would constitute contempt; issuance of notifications by various ministries is trigger enough.
Sidharth Luthra, Senior Advocate

AS Chandiok, senior advocate and a former additional solicitor general, concurred that it is not proper for a democratic government to take the law into its own hands and act despite the Supreme Court’s explicit orders. But the government may choose to argue public interest concerns if the contempt issue is raised before the apex court, he pointed out.
It is very likely that the government will say that we are not able to give benefit to genuine people because of unscrupulous elements. What check can I have? This is the only check and balance I can have between citizens. The government may say that it’s in public interest that I am doing this, so that only people who are entitled to these benefits can avail them.
AS Chandiok, Senior Advocate
But the right way to approach it is to first go to the Supreme Court and seek permission for such notifications, Chandiok added.
Non-Welfare Schemes
While the Supreme Court was clear when ruling against the mandatory use of Aadhaar for welfare schemes, when it comes to non-welfare matters the 2015 order reads in more than one way. At first glance it seems to say nothing about non-welfare matters.
‘The production of an Aadhaar card will not be condition for obtaining any benefits otherwise due to a citizen.’  
On that basis, the government’s decision to make Aadhaar mandatory for tax filing cannot be construed as against the court’s order.
A further reading of the 2015 order reveals that the apex court disallowed the government from using Aadhaar for any purpose other than the six welfare schemes listed in the order.
‘The Unique Identification Number or the Aadhaar card will not be used by the respondents for any purpose other than...’  
This suggests Aadhaar cannot be made mandatory for any government or non-government service or matter, whether its welfare schemes or tax filing.
But curiously, in a recent order, the Supreme Court itself has directed that an Aadhaar based ‘electronic know-your-customer’ (e-KYC) process be used for issuing new telephone connection.
The Supreme Court’s Silence
The confusion on whether Aadhaar can be made mandatory for non-welfare services aside, lawyers agreed that the 2015 order is clear on welfare schemes. And that even the requirement of enroling for Aadhaar in government notifications pertaining to such schemes amounts to potential contempt of the Supreme Court order.
But why then has the apex court not taken action against the government or officials responsible?
Chandiok explained that the ongoing confrontation between the judiciary and government on the issue of judicial appointments may be one reason.
I don’t think in the current circumstances the Supreme Court will take up the Aadhaar issue by itself. Someone who is eligible for a benefit and is being denied that benefit can approach the apex court – that situation must emerge before the court. I don’t think the court will suo motu take action. The destruction at the hands of the Supreme Court is no less.

AS Chandiok, Senior Advocate
The Supreme Court’s silence amounts to dereliction of duty and the court must ensure rule of law by enforcing compliance of its orders, Chandiok added.
Luthra explained that when this matter first came up in 2015, the court took the view that it should be placed before a five-judge bench. But a five-judge bench is not easy to constitute due to the limited number of judges and the crippling workload.
I am given to understand that Aadhaar cases are likely to be heard in the coming summer vacation, and it would be prudent for the petitioners to raise the contempt issue once the constitution bench is set up.

Sidharth Luthra, Senior Advocate
On Monday though, when litigants currently before the apex court on the Aadhaar matter, sought setting up of a constitutional bench for final hearing on petitions against Aadhaar, the Supreme Court indicated that the matter may need to be heard by a constitutional bench of at least seven judges and that this request is already pending with the Chief Justice of India.
BloombergQuint