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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Thursday, July 27, 2017

11654 - Privacy Neither Only About Aadhaar Nor an Elitist Concept: SC to Govt - News 18

The observation came during the daylong hearing as the AG sought to put across the point that only upper middle class and upper class were concerned about the right to privacy in a country where 270 million people required assistance of the State for their basic needs such as food, shelter and clothes.
Updated:July 26, 2017, 8:33 PM IST

New Delhi: The Supreme Court on Wednesday told the Central government that right to privacy was neither “all about Aadhaar” nor was this an “elitist concept” but that it also concerned the “little poor man” of this country.

“Not everything is Aadhaar-centric… think about the little poor man too. Don’t forget his right to privacy,” a nine-judge bench led by Chief Justice of India J S Khehar told Attorney General K K Venugopal.

Venugopal added that “something as amorphous as privacy” cannot be assigned the status of a fundamental right.

The observation came during the daylong hearing as the AG sought to put across the point that only upper middle class and upper class were concerned about the right to privacy in a country where 270 million people required assistance of the State for their basic needs such as food, shelter and clothes.

Venugopal was categorical that privacy at best could be premised upon right to personal liberty but it has to give way to right to life of 270 million people who can access basic necessities through Aadhaar.

“The right to life transcends the right to privacy...nobody can be heard to say my right to personal liberty, which may be claimed as repository of right to privacy is absolute. Even the right to life is not absolute. State can take it away through procedure established by law. That's why you have death sentence which take away your right to life, and you have incarceration, which curtails your liberty,” he contended.

“Privacy is a heterogeneous concept. It will have many shades, many instances and manifestations in the form of sub-species. Privacy is in fact an umbrella term for several claims. How will you propound a generalised right to privacy? It can’t be absolute and has to be qualified. This will have to be decided on a case by case basis. Some claims may qualify as a violation of right to privacy, some may not. Every single claim of privacy, irrespective of context, extent and manifestation, cannot automatically and ipso facto be elevated to being a fundamental right,” maintained Venugopal.

The AG then went on to state that privacy was in fact more like a sociological notion, derived of something like a pursuit of happiness, but it lacked the jural concept.

“Privacy is a concept meant more for developed countries but not for a country like India...The upper middle class is very happy. They look after themselves. What about poverty?” he said.

But Justices Rohinton F Nariman and D Y Chandrachud retorted that privacy cannot be dismissed as an elitist concept.

“Privacy isn’t an elitist concept…this will affect large masses. State can't get a blanket sanction to do whatever it wants Can State say we will compel slum dwellers to undergo sterlisation since it may control population? Can you force poor women suffering from cervical cancer to take experimental drugs?” asked Justice Chandrachud.

As Venugopal pressed that something as socially beneficial as Aadhaar cannot be debunked on a group accusing it of violating their right to privacy, Justice Chandrachud referred to certain instances from the 1975 Emergency to buttress that privacy affects the poor equally and the might of the State may not always be the perfect example.

“You may argue that the State’s interest is legitimate but you cannot deny there is no right…forces sterilisations were done during the emergency. Eugenic sterilization was followed. Do we want to justify them all?” he questioned the AG. Justice Nariman also intervened, saying the government’s arguments was a classic case of “throwing the baby with the bath water.”

At this, CJI Khahar asked Venugopal to describe what according to him the worth of right to privacy was. Venugopal responded that privacy may have certain aspect of a fundamental right but it cannot be classed as such. The CJI replied that that if the government was conceding that privacy was a fundamental right, the case did not require to be heard any further and proceedings could come to an end by recording the AG’s statement. 

Venugopal, however, clarified that he never meant to say that privacy, as a term, could be declared to be a fundamental right. “There is a fundamental right to privacy but it is wholly qualified right. Since right to privacy consists of diverse aspects and it is a sub-specie of liberty, every aspect of the sub-species will not qualify as a fundamental right,” he clarified.

The AG added the government was willing to go back to a 3-judge or a 5-judge bench to show how Aadhaar did not come under the ambit of violation of any of the fundamental rights. “It will be preposterous to say that Aadhaar will turn India into a totalitarian State,” said Venugopal.

As the AG made conditional statements, Justice Nariman said that the nine-judge bench would rather appreciate all the arguments and come up with a judgment for “conceptual clarity of the nation” on the issue.

The arguments over the right to privacy, which has arisen in the wake of controversies surrounding alleged breach under the Aadhaar scheme, will resume tomorrow.

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First Published: July 26, 2017, 7:50 PM IST