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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Friday, April 28, 2017

11152 - #Aadhaar and Income Tax Returns: Hearing in Supreme Court – Day 1 - Bar and Bench



On an otherwise uneventful day at the Supreme Court, Court room 7 garnered the limelight, thanks to the two petitions challenging the Constitutional validity of Section 139AA of the Income Tax Act (IT Act). The said Section makes Aadhaar mandatory for filing Income Tax Returns.

The two petitions filed by three petitioners were argued by two Senior Advocates before a Bench of Justices AK Sikri and Ashok Bhushan.

The first petition has been filed by CPI leader Binoy Viswam. The petition was drawn and filed by advocate Sriram P. Senior Advocate Arvind Datar appeared for Viswam.

The second petition has been filed by SG Vombatkere, a retired Indian Army Officer and Bezwada Wilson, founder and convenor of Safai Karmachari Andolan. The petition was drawn by advocate Udayaditya Banerjee and filed by M/s. KJ John & Co with Senior Advocate Shyam Divan appearing for the two petitioners.
Below are the excerpts from the hearing that happened today
Prelude

As soon as the hearing began, Attorney General Mukul Rohatgi made a submission which, it seems was anticipated by the petitioners. He submitted that challenge to Aadhaar based on right to privacy as a facet of Article 21 is already pending before the Supreme Court. Hence, an Article 32 petition cannot lie if the said ground of violation of right to privacy as fundamental right is not taken.
“Article 32 will lie only in case of violation of fundamental rights. If there is no challenge regarding right to privacy then why come to Supreme Court”?, he said.

However, Senior Advocate Shyam Divan responded to it by saying that they are challenging the vires of section 139AA on the ground of violation of Articles 14, 19 and 21 and they will not raise the right to privacy issue.
“We will not argue on privacy issue at all”.
The Hearing
Arvind Datar for Binoy Viswam
Datar appearing for Viswam, proceeded to make his submissions. He began his submissions by saying that the provision was not part of the original Finance Bill.
“There is nothing in the Finance Minister’s speech on why this provision was inserted.”
He contended that the Central government had given an undertaking to the Court that it will not make Aadhaar mandatory except for certain social welfare schemes.
“How can they then go ahead and make it mandatory under the Income Tax Act?” he asked.

One of Datar’s main contentions was that Aadhaar is not mandatory under the Aadhaar Act and hence it cannot be made mandatory under IT Act.

“Unless the parent Act, that is, Section 3 of Aadhaar Act is amended to make it mandatory, it cannot be made mandatory under IT Act.”

Besides that, he also relied on the orders of the Supreme Court in the main case challenging the validity of Aadhaar. As per the orders, the Court had directed that the scheme is voluntary and cannot be made mandatory till the issue is finally settled by the court.

“Undertaking by the Union of India says that except for some social welfare schemes, it will not be mandatory. Moreover, it is not a mere undertaking now because there is an order to that effect by a Constitution Bench of this Court”, he said.

Datar was particularly critical of the proviso to Section 139AA, which states that in case of failure to intimate the Aadhaar number, the permanent account number (PAN) allotted to the person shall be deemed to be invalid.

Datar argued that this would mean that PAN would be invalid retrospectively. This was, however, refuted by Attorney General Mukul Rohatgi who clarified that it would be invalid only prospectively.
Datar’s contentions regarding violation of Article 14 was, however, met with constant questions by the Bench. The Bench observed that if the Legislature takes a decision to replace PAN with Aadhaar, that would only be a matter of policy unless the issue of privacy is involved.
“Suppose PAN is replaced by Aadhaar, and there is no issue of privacy, then will your challenge stand?” Justice Sikri queried.
Datar said that the provision discriminated against individual assesses, since partnership firms etc. can continue to file IT returns without Aadhaar.
He also raised the issue of arbitrariness. Though arbitrariness is usually used as a ground to strike down administrative actions, Datar contended that it can be used to challenge primary legislations too. He relied on the case of Mardia Chemicals to buttress his argument.”
Datar concluded his arguments before the Court rose for lunch.
Shyam Divan for SG Vombatkere and Bezwada Wilson
Divan submissions today were largely on the background of Aadhaar and how it does not merit a place under the current Constitutional setup.
“The petitioners understanding is that the State in India, under this Constitution has no right over their bodies. In a totalitarian State, an individual is just a number, but that is not the case in India.”
Divan submitted that the State cannot coerce into taking fingerprints and iris scans. He also cited examples of how fingerprints and iris scans were misused in Germany by taking high resolution photographs during press conference with the same being used to hack into information on defence department.
“My finger print and iris scan are mine. The all-powerful Republic of India cannot coerce me into parting with it for paying taxes”, he submitted.
Divan cited the dangers of finger prints and iris scans being used by the State to act as an “Electronic leash”.
“There is no bargain permitted under our Constitution by which the State can say ‘Give me your fingerprint and I will tether you electronically’.”

Besides, Divan also drew the attention of the Court to the fact that the data was collected through private third parties and not government offices.
“These private parties have to be given my personal information, which could be misused. 34,000 of such enrollers were recently scrapped and 3.84 lakh Aadhaar numbers were cancelled. It shows that it is a very porous and inefficient system.”

Divan will continue his arguments tomorrow after which Attorney General Mukul Rohatgi will make his submissions on behalf of the Union of India.