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.


Friday, May 5, 2017

11236 - Supreme Court puts critics of Aadhaar-PAN linkage in a spot - The Hindu


NEW DELHI MAY 03, 2017 22:02 IST


An operator helps a woman scan her fingerprints as she enrolls for Aadhaar in Kolkata. File   | Photo Credit: AP

Does right to choose apply for tax?
Can a person who is voluntarily a part of a tax regime choose to say he will pay his taxes only in the certain way he wants to? Does he have a right to choose?

“Yes, it is my right to choose a career. It is my right of choice to be a transgender. But away from these societal rights, when a citizen is part of a tax regime, can you say that I will pay taxes only the way I want to do it... Is there a right of choice in the limited context of tax laws?” Justice A.K. Sikri, who heads the Bench also comprising Justice Ashok Bhushan, asked.

The question from the Supreme Court came even as the petitioners claimed that the mandatory linking of Aadhaar to PAN under the newly-included Section 139AA of the Income Tax Act is a “direct invasion” by the state into the citizens’ right to make free, voluntary and informed consent.

Critics argued in the Supreme Court that Section 139AA is a “chilling trajectory the State has taken to dilute civil liberties.”

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“It completely takes away your political and personal choices. You are a dog on an electronic leash, tagged and tracked. Your progress hobbled,” senior advocate Shyam Divan, representing a petitioner, submitted.

The government, represented by advocate Arghya Sengupta, quoted American jurist Oliver Wendell Holmes Jr. to say that “taxes are the price we pay for an orderly society.”

Mr. Sengupta argued that after Aadhaar cards at 113.7 crore, voter ID cards are the most produced at 60 crore, revealing the number of people who want to be accounted for in the system.
He said Aadhaar was foolproof as PAN was in 1975. “Biometric technology is the best system in 2016,” Mr. Sengupta submitted.

‘Ensures equality’
The government said Aadhaar, rather than causing inequality, bolstered equality between honest taxpayers and those who had till now evaded tax.

Mr. Divan rebutted by taking on the court’s pointer that there was no individual freedom of choice when it came to tax laws formed by the state, in this case Section 139AA.

Judicial review
He said Section 139AA was hardly a fiscal statute. Instead, it definitely invited judicial review and interpretation.
“Section 139AA engrafts the entire machinery and procedure used in Aadhaar Act. Section 139AA is a direct invasion of fundamental rights using the Aadhaar Act, which is a non-fiscal law,” Mr. Divan argued.

Direct collision
He submitted that there was indeed a direct collision between the voluntary nature of the Aadhaar Act of 2016 and Section 139AA which made it mandatory for a person to possess an Aadhaar card to file income tax returns and continue to have a valid PAN.
Attorney-General Mukul Rohatgi had argued that the Aadhaar Act is “in a way mandatory” and there was no disparity between the statute and Section 139AA.

Mr. Divan pointed out that a citizen is “entitled” and not “obliged” under the Aadhaar Act to obtain an Aadhaar card to access certain benefits. He pointed to several provisions of the Aadhaar Act which mandate that the enrolling authority should first inform the citizen about how and where biometric details collected from him would be used.

“Informing a citizen thus means that his prior consent is implicit. Do you see the same in Section 139AA?” asked Mr. Divan.

No punishment
Most importantly, he submitted that the voluntary nature of the Aadhaar Act was clear from the fact that there was no punishment prescribed against people who opt not to take Aadhaar.
He referred to the website of the Unique Identification Authority of India (UIDAI) itself to point out that the “very creature of Aadhaar statute says it is voluntary”.

He said over 1.6 lakh Aadhaar cards had been cancelled. Crores of Aadhaar enrolments were done by private parties before the Aadhaar Act came into existence in 2016. The same private enrollers were used even now.
“Aadhaar enrolment is a gravy train for private entrepreneurs. Data collected is used commercially,” Mr. Divan submitted, pulling out a list of them accessed from the UIDAI website.

He read out the names of some of the private entrepreneurs to whom citizens give their most intimate personal imprints, including a “philanthropic club” from Odisha to the proprietor of an establishment called ‘Bits and Bytes’ in Mumbai.

“Indian citizen should have his day in court. Please pass appropriate interim orders against Section 139AA,” Mr. Divan concluded.