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 12, 2017

11323 - Why India’s supreme court still hasn’t settled the raging debate over Aadhaar - Quartz


Written by Devjyot Ghoshal


In recent months, the debate over Aadhaar has reached a feverish pitch as the Narendra Modi government has pushed to make the 12-digit identification number mandatory for more and more schemes.

Critics have underlined privacy concerns and security flaws besides citing a bevy of data leak incidents that have exposed the identity information of millions of citizens. The government, on the other hand, has held that the biometrics-based platform has improved subsidy delivery and can potentially clean up other critical systems such as the permanent account number (PAN), which is used to file tax returns.

Eventually, it is up to India’s supreme court to take a call. But, despite Aadhaar having been challenged as early as 2012, India’s top court hasn’t yet settled the issue.

At a panel discussion in New Delhi on May 09, Shyam Divan, a senior advocate at the supreme court, attempted to explain the delay. Divan, one of the lawyers representing a clutch of petitioners challenging the Aadhaar platform in the supreme court, began by pointing out at that the apex court is currently functioning with fewer judges than the sanctioned strength of 31. These judges, he went on, are organised as per a roster determined by the chief justice of India (CJI), who heads the supreme court.

So far, there have been three chief justices, including the incumbent CJI justice Jagdish Singh Khehar, who had the opportunity to take a call on Aadhaar. 

Divan explained:
So we had chief justice Dattu who passed an order in October of 2015 saying that this is a very high priority case. (He) didn’t assign it to an adequately strong bench for his term. Then, we had a year-long tenure of chief justice Thakur, he didn’t do it. And now, it’s not likely that chief justice Khehar, until August or September, when he retires, is likely to do it either.
So there’s really nothing we can do in terms of expediting it, except going up before the chief justice and requesting him that, ‘Look, this is a priority.’

Among other things, the petitioners challenging the Aadhaar scheme have argued that the collection of biometric data (pdf) violates a citizen’s right to privacy, while the government has contended that the existence of the fundamental right to privacy is doubtful. Divan explained that the government’s line has created a situation where effectively only a bench of a certain size can decide on the matter:

…the manner in which the government has argued the matter is that you do not have a right to privacy because of certain observations made in a judgement rendered by eight judges. And this (the government’s) was an argument canvassed before three judges, and they felt at that time that ‘all right, we will kick it up, send it up to a panel of suitable strength.’ So basically if you want to overturn eight, you need nine. So the chief justice of India has to spare nine judges, and I think the present lot…the chief justices don’t think they have the personnel to spare.

Therefore, till the time the CJI can constitute a bench of the required strength, it is unlikely that the Aadhaar issue will be settled. In January this year, for instance, Divan requested the court to expedite the process of setting up a constitutional bench, i.e. consisting of at least five judges that decide on matters related to the interpretation of the Constitution of India. However, his plea was denied.

On May 09, another petition in the supreme court—this one challenging the mandatory linking of Aadhaar with a number of government schemes—was referred to a constitutional bench.
“So we were before a panel of two judges today and those two judges again kicked it up and said ‘Look, the matter is pending up before at least five (judges) and so we will request the chief justice of India that since many of these notifications are becoming mandatory from June 30 onwards, to try and help out over there,'” Divan explained.

“So that’s why we’re stuck in a rather difficult spot and the next endeavour is now going to be to try and get at least an interim directions heard before a panel of hopefully at least five (judges),” he added.

Until then, the Modi government, more or less, is free to introduce Aadhaar in even more schemes.