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.


Thursday, April 13, 2017

11029 - Observation, not binding decision - Frontline


“MENTIONING” by lawyers before a court is a recognised use of judicial time to draw the attention of judges to urgent matters that may fail to get listed for detailed hearing in the normal course of events. Thus, matters relating to personal liberty, which cannot brook any delay, are “mentioned” before judges, either before they begin the regular hearing of their cases or after their normal work is over, to seek directions to the court’s registry for the early listing of the matters.

The judges on the bench, in turn, put probing questions to the counsel who request early listing to satisfy themselves of the “urgency” involved in the matter. While the judges’ questions and observations are aimed at seeking clarifications from the counsel, the judges do not express any opinion on the matter that is pending for hearing.

One such mentioning on March 27 before the court of the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court earned disproportionate space in the media, as if the court had given a binding decision. Senior Counsel Shyam Divan, appearing for Major General (retd) S.G. Vombatkere, made a mention before the bench of the Chief Justice of India (CJI), Justice J.S. Khehar, and Justices D.Y. Chandrachud and Sanjay Kishan Kaul of the batch of cases challenging the constitutional validity of the Aadhaar identification project, the National Population Register schemes, and the Aadhaar (Targeted Delivery of Financial and Other Subsidies, Benefits and Services) Act passed in 2016.

Divan mentioned the cases, grouped under the lead petition, Justice K.S. Puttaswamy (retd) vs Union of India, before another bench, comprising Chief Justice Khehar and Justices N.V. Ramana and Chandrachud, on January 5, when the court’s order read: “Declined for immediate hearing for the time being.” On January 5, there were as many as eight vacancies in the Supreme Court, which has a sanctioned strength of 31 judges. As the Aadhaar case was referred to a five-judge Constitution Bench in August 2015, it was believed that Chief Justice Khehar, as the administrative head of the court, perhaps felt unable to relieve five judges to hear this matter in view of the vacancies. The Supreme Court normally sits in benches of two or three judges. The CJI specifically sets up benches of five or more judges to hear matters raising substantial constitutional issues that are referred for resolution by benches of smaller strength.

Interlocutory application No.5
On February 17, five new judges joined the Supreme Court, taking its working strength to 28. Perhaps, Diwan believed that the CJI-led bench might have a rethink in March now that the Supreme Court had more judges than it had in January. Thus, on March 27, the petitioners sought from the CJI an assurance that the Constitution Bench of five judges would be formed soon to hear the matter. Among the petitioners was Vombatkere, whose civil writ petition was tagged with that of Justice Puttaswamy (retd), which has been pending since 2012. 

Vombatkere, through his senior counsel Divan, sought an assurance that the interlocutory application he filed (IA No.5) seeking the court’s intervention to stay the recent spate of notifications making the requirement of Aadhaar mandatory in many schemes would be heard on April 3, as shown under the Advance List of matters slated for hearing on that day.

The CJI-led bench, after a brief exchange of views with Divan, declined to give such an assurance. As a result, Vombatkere’s IA got deleted from the Final List for April 3 and was shown in the Elimination List for that day. The Supreme Court, as if to ensure transparency, explains why a particular matter is eliminated from the Final List and included in the Elimination List. Thus, every matter in the Elimination List includes a brief explanation giving the reason for the elimination. The one reason most commonly cited is “excess matters”. A subsequent date when the matter will be listed is given along with this explanation. 

The second most commonly cited reason for elimination is the non-availability of the judge before whom it was listed to be heard. 

The third frequently cited reason is “due to compelling reason”. 

The Supreme Court, however, does not disclose what that compelling reason is. Vombatkere’s IA No.5 was eliminated “due to compelling reason”, and as a litigant, he can only speculate about what could have been the reason in his case.


V. Venkatesan