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.


Tuesday, July 25, 2017

11628 - A Litmus Test - Indian Express


Supreme Court must interpret Constitution in a manner that ensures right to privacy

Written by Faizan Mustafa | Published:July 24, 2017 3:27 am




The right to privacy is not explicitly mentioned in the Constitution. But then the right to “due process” too was not there and, in fact, was dropped by the framers of the Constitution.

In India, people have the right to life, but fake encounters and mob lynching happen. In spite of the right to free speech, publications feel compelled to withdraw articles critical of government or corporates. There is a right to equality but discrimination is still rampant.

When the mention of fundamental rights in the Constitution is not able to ensure their full implementation on ground, one wonders what will happen if privacy is not recognised as a fundamental right. In such a situation, citizens may not have protection against surveillance and even profiling by the state, the state could target those who speak against it, even voting preferences may be influenced, telephone tapping could be routinely resorted to and our mails intercepted. This is indeed a terrifying prospect.

The right to privacy is not explicitly mentioned in the Constitution. But then the right to “due process” too was not there and, in fact, was dropped by the framers of the Constitution. Yet, the apex court read it into the “right to personal liberty”. The court, in fact, silently brought about what may be called a “rights revolution” by judicially creating several fundamental rights.

When the democratic state turned totalitarian under Indira Gandhi and started abusing its powers to amend the Constitution, the Supreme Court as protector of civil liberties stood firm and applied the brakes first, in 1967, by denying Parliament power to amend the Constitution and then, in 1973, through the “basic structure” doctrine which too is not there in the text of the Constitution.

If the text of the Constitution alone is going to determine the nature of the right to privacy, then the collegium system, the right against arbitrariness and the freedom of press too could go soon. Voluntary surrender of personal information to private entities cannot be equated with mandatory data collection by the state. The right to privacy judgment will be a litmus test for the apex court.

Will the court follow the rich traditions of 1967 and 1973 and rise to the challenges of the information age? One hopes there would not be another ADM Jabalpur (1976) kind of decision where the majority accepted the government’s argument that when the right to life and personal liberty is suspended, citizens have no remedy against illegal detention.

It is erroneous to believe that eight- and six-judge benches have authoritatively held that there is no right to privacy. In the Satish Chandra case (1954), the fundamental question was whether the state’s power of search and seizure violated the right against self-incrimination under Article 20(3). In a positivist mould, the court refused to read right to privacy under this provision.

Then came the Kharak Singh (1963) case where a dacoity accused was released and put under surveillance. Police constables would knock at his door, wake him up during night and disturb his sleep. The majority conceded that “everyman’s home is his castle” and struck down domiciliary visit regulations. But without any elaborate discussions, the court yet again said that there was no fundamental right to privacy in India.
But there was the powerful dissenting judgment of Justice Subba Roa, with whom Justice J.C. Shah concurred. They argued that even though the right to privacy is not specifically mentioned in the Constitution, it is a necessary ingredient of the right to personal liberty. In the Gobind case (1975) the minority opinion of Kharak Singh case became the majority opinion. The court has recognised right to privacy as an integral part of right to personal liberty. Today, liberty is a part of the basic structure of the Constitution.

Despite the recognition of privacy as a fundamental right, the government will continue to have powers to impose “reasonable restrictions”. It is no body’s case that the right to privacy is an absolute right. Moreover, global experience shows that the denial of privacy neither promotes national security nor curbs terrorism, it merely takes away citizen’s freedom to be left alone and curtails his/her choice in personal decisions.
The writer is vice-chancellor, NALSAR University of Law, Hyderabad. Views are personal