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.


Saturday, April 8, 2017

10996 - Can Supreme Court Rule on Speaker’s Decision on Money Bills? Experts Weigh In - The Wire


With the ‘money Bill’ controversy rising to the fore again, parliamentarians and jurists differ on whether the Supreme Court can question the speaker’s decisions.

Chief Justice of India J.S. Khehar and Lok Sabha Speaker Sumitra Mahajan. Credit: PTI

The ‘money Bill‘ controversy has come to the fore once again, given the government’s actions in the current Budget session of parliament.

Over 175 eminent persons, including Fali Nariman, Prabhat Patnaik and Aruna Roy, have written to Vice President Hamid Ansari, criticising the government’s move to classify the finance Bill as a money Bill.

The signatories had accused the government of continuing the abuse of process where vital debates on the controversial Aadhaar Bill, 2016 were avoided by tabling it as a ‘money Bill’.
In this backdrop, parliamentarians and jurists have expressed divergent opinions on whether the courts can interpret the actions of a Lok Sabha speaker, such as categorising a Bill as a ‘money Bill’.

Former speaker Somnath Chatterjee, who is an eminent jurist, insists that the decision of the presiding officer is final and cannot be interpreted by the courts.

“So far as rules relating to procedure of the House, regularities and irregularities in the House, decision of the speaker is final. It cannot be interpreted by the courts”, he told The Wire.
Chatterjee, who as speaker had stoutly resisted the judiciary’s attempts to encroach on the legislature’s powers, feels the“speaker has to take a decision whether a Bill is a money Bill or not. [The] speaker’s decision is final.”

‘To my mind, if the courts are allowed to interpret … the very position and authority of the speaker will be seriously jeopardised. Then every ruling and every decision of the speaker will be subject to the decision of the courts.Whole premise of the constitution as envisaged will be seriously jeopardised,” he said.

Former secretary general of the Lok Sabha S. Bala Shekhar concurs with Chatterjee.
“The House can devise its own rules of procedure. [The] speaker is the custodian of all rules of procedure and he/she is the final interpreter of the rules. Whatever may be the ruling, it cannot be looked into by a court of law. There have been specific provisions …that courts will not go into procedural issues, whether it is passing of a bill or any resolution or motion,” Shekhar said.

He added, “Similarly, [the] judiciary cannot discuss judicial procedures. It cannot interfere. [The] judiciary has been given independence. The legislature has been given independence. 

Both cannot interfere in each other’s functioning as per [the] constitutional scheme of things. Whatever the decision of the Speaker, it cannot be questioned in a court of law.”

“Only under the Anti-Defection law, [the] speaker has been treated as a quasi-judicial authority and whatever decision in this regard can be challenged,” Shekhar insisted.

However, former Lok Sabha secretary general P. D. T. Achary disagrees.
“Whatever happens in the Lok Sabha is not subject to judicial review. The House has immunity…Nobody can challenge in court proceedings of the House on the grounds that there are procedural irregularities.”

“If speaker does not take a decision according to constitutional provisions, it can be challenged. Naturally it can be challenged,” Achary said when asked about the Supreme Court challenging the speaker’s decision to declare the Aadhaar Bill a money Bill.
Besides, he added, “a person expelled from the House without following proper procedure or without being given an opportunity to defend himself, is a fit case for judicial intervention. There may be such other cases, but in general the constitution does not allow for challenging the procedure of the House or Speaker’s decision in a court of law.”

“Apart from procedural irregularities, there can be other grounds on which the speaker’s decision can be challenged,” he said noting that the SC has upheld this opinion in one or even two judgments.

Striking a similar note, senior Supreme Court advocate Prashant Bhushan said the Supreme Court cannot go into the proceedings of the House.

Noting that the court “normally does not interpret the decision of the speaker except when fundamental rights of the people are affected,” Bhushan insisted that the “money Bill is a matter clearly having legal implications and therefore it can be challenged.”

Another senior advocate of the Supreme Court, Sanjay Hegde, recalled that the court’s 2014 judgement in the UP Lokayukta case had held that the speaker’s ruling declaring a Bill to be a money Bill could not be challenged and one had to accept the speaker’s decision.

Noting that it is “difficult” to invalidate the speaker’s decision on procedural grounds, he, however, said there are more substantial grounds such as the violation of fundamental rights including right to privacy.

The challenge on the grounds of privacy is currently pending before the Supreme Court and has now been placed before a larger bench, Hedge said, making a strong pitch for the Supreme Court to decide the matter expeditiously.

Many have raised the point that India should not delay an unambiguous law to protect citizens’ privacy given the judicial interpretation that privacy is a derivative of fundamental rights.
Even as it acknowledged the authority of the speaker in a parliamentary democracy, the Supreme Court recently said that the court would not hesitate to correct a speaker if he were to say “blue is green”. The court was hearing a PIL filed by Congress leader Jairam Ramesh, who had challenged the speaker’s decision to treat the Aadhaar Bill as a money Bill when the bench stated so. The Bill was passed during the Budget session in 2016 after the lower house overruled the Rajya Sabha’s amendments.

“Yes, we have identified the role and authority of the speaker. But if the speaker says blue is green, we will ask the speaker to say it is blue…that we will set right,” said the bench led by Chief Justice of India J. S. Khehar. The bench, also comprising Justice N. V. Ramana, added: “When we go wrong, larger benches set aside our orders and correct it. So why cannot we do it (vis a vis speaker)?”

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