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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Thursday, April 13, 2017

11026 - Protect citizens’ freedom: SC should not allow Aadhaar to eliminate constitutional right of privacy - TNN


April 11, 2017, 2:00 AM IST Eben Moglen in TOI Edit Page | Edit Page, India | TOI

As a law teacher and lawyer working in my home system, but concerned with issues of law and technology that are global more than they are national, i’ve spent the last several years paying much more attention to the Indian Supreme Court. In cases involving decency regulation and intermediaries’ liabilities for user-generated content, the Supreme Court has begun to frame a voice on issues involving political and expressive freedom in the age of the networked society.

It will be considering these questions as will the highest constitutional courts of the United States, the European Union and its members, South Africa, or post-European Britain. A powerful court speaking for the world’s largest democracy on issues of privacy, expressive rights, surveillance, identity control and the other similar matters now coming to the fore in all societies will be immensely influential.

                                  Illustration: Uday Deb

All of which leads me to regard with puzzlement the efforts the Supreme Court is apparently taking just now to avoid speaking at all on the most important of current questions, not just for India, but for humanity. The Supreme Court now has before it – pending already for a period of almost two years – petitions asking it to rule on whether Indian citizens have a constitutional right of privacy against government.

The pending case of Justice KS Puttaswamy & Ors vs Union of India & Ors was the first in the series of cases challenging the Aadhaar scheme. The case, along with 15 other matters tagged along with it, is currently pending before the apex court, after being referred to the Constitution Bench in 2015.

The Court has ruled, and occasionally reaffirms in commentary on related matters, that Aadhaar registration cannot be made generally mandatory, yet it has before it unaddressed numerous petitions concerning large numbers of social services for which Aadhaar registration has been made mandatory in apparent contempt of the Court’s ruling.

Taken together, these matters that the Supreme Court does not seem to want to hear ask the most important questions now pending anywhere among the societies that adhere to the rule of law, concerning citizens’ freedom in 21st century societies. If government does not have a positive responsibility to protect the privacy of its citizens, including against itself, then the technologies of behaviour collection now being grafted into the nervous system of humanity we call the internet will make new, hyper-efficient modes of despotism inevitable.

If citizens don’t have the right to inspect and understand biometric identification databases that contain all our identities and all the behaviour that is attributed to us, what we now think of as “free society” can be turned off at any time. The Indian Supreme Court’s docket now includes clear and pressing questions that lead to the heart of issues all the world’s democracies are going to face very soon.

But two successive Chief Justices have now found it impossible to constitute a seven-member bench to hear the privacy right petitions. No action is being taken on the Aadhaar contempt petitions as the Government moves on. The inertia is mysterious and surprising. The world is listening; the voice of India’s constitutional lawyers reasoning for their powerful and immense society will speak directly to the judges of the rest of the world’s democracies.

In the US Supreme Court, where i had the privilege to work for Justice Thurgood Marshall as a young law clerk, there is a valuable assumption that everything on the docket at the start of each term will be resolved by its end. Perhaps once in a decade, the Court will order a reargument of some matter, putting it over for a second yearly term.

The US Supreme Court, it is true, controls its docket and selects its cases differently than the Indian Supreme Court, and the presumption of an ability to dispose of everything within one year cannot be recommended here. But all our courts descend from those made in the England of King John’s Magna Carta of the year 1215, in which it was first promised to observe the truth that justice delayed is justice denied.

For all of us throughout the human race who live under the rule of law, how the Indian Supreme Court decides the cases now pending before it will have important consequences. All the other developed democracies recognise some form of the constitutional right of privacy against government. If the Indian Supreme Court shows that the world’s largest democracy believes it can survive without that commitment, it will weaken the cause of privacy throughout the few parts of the world that uphold it.

If, on the other hand, the Supreme Court places India in the vanguard of the constitutional democracies, then the evolution of Aadhaar, UPI, and other aspects of Digital India will occur in a legal and constitutional context that will become a light unto nations, an example to the world’s advanced societies. What is the Supreme Court waiting for?


DISCLAIMER : Views expressed above are the author's own.