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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Monday, July 31, 2017

11675 - Supreme Court hearing Aadhaar case: If top court accepts Centre's approach to privacy, ruling may be very restricted - First Post



IndiaAsheeta RegidiJul, 28 2017 15:44:41 IST
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The arguments on behalf of the Centre are in progress before the 9-judge bench at the Supreme Court. As expected, the arguments are against the recognition of privacy as a fundamental right. In a partly positive development, the counsels for the Centre, who include current Attorney General KK Venugopal, have conceded that some aspects of privacy are a fundamental right. However, it is being sought to restrict privacy to existing fundamental rights, and to deny a general fundamental right to privacy.

At this stage, in view of the concession of the Centre and the various questions posed by the bench to the counsels, the court appears to be leaning towards recognising a right to privacy. However, if the court accepts the Centre's approach, the right to privacy granted will be very restricted.

The arguments will resume on Tuesday. Here is a look at the arguments made so far against privacy.

Is privacy relevant to developing countries?
One of the surprising arguments made against privacy is that this is a claim better suited to developed countries. Privacy, it was argued, is not suitable for a developing country like India where the majority of the masses don't even have access to basic services. For this reason also, judgments and laws established in other countries like America have no applicability in India, where the reality is very different.

Laudatory Aadhaar Act cannot be questioned on privacy claims
For the same reasons, it was argued, a laudatory act like the Aadhaar Act, designed for enabling better delivery of public welfare and social services to the masses, could not be defeated on privacy claims. Several recent Supreme Court judgments supporting the use of Aadhaar, such as those directing the use of Aadhaar for admissions, linking with mobile numbers, etc., were cited in support of this contention.

SC observes privacy not an elitist concern
Both these arguments were not accepted by the Bench. The Bench in this case pointed out that privacy is not an elitist concern, but was of equal concern to the masses. The Bench cited the example of forced sterilization of slum dwellers for population control, a state act which could be controlled perhaps only through a claim of privacy. Further, the bench noted that if privacy was not a fundamental right, then there would be a blanket sanction on anything the state can do.

In fact, even in previous landmark judgments, the Supreme Court had held that privacy was as relevant to an Indian home as to an American one.

Legitimate versus Compelling state interest

A debate also ensued on the extent of validity of state actions which could not be questioned on claims of privacy. The counsels for the Centre suggested the lighter standard of legitimate interest, or a legal or lawful act of the state, as opposed a compelling interest. The Court was not happy with this argument, pointing out that most acts of the state were out of legitimate interest, such as the state controlling crime, but restrictions on the state's power remained, such as an accused's rights under Article 20 (eg.: right against self-incrimination).

Only some aspects of privacy are a fundamental right
Another argument was that privacy is not a homogenous right, and all of its aspects could not be a fundamental right. The Supreme Court responded to this that the issue before it was whether any, even one aspect of privacy could amount to a fundamental right. Moreover, even existing fundamental rights were not without restrictions, so why was privacy any different?

To this, the attorney general conceded that some aspects do deserve protection as a fundamental right. However, this is restricted to those aspects of privacy which can be derived from fundamental rights. For example, the right to bodily integrity which stems from the right to life may be accepted on those grounds, and not as a facet of a right to privacy. Privacy as an independent fundamental right does not exist.

Data given for passports, voter cards, is in the public domain?
On being questioned by the bench on which aspects of privacy deserved protection, it was stated that informational privacy, for example, is not a constitutional guarantee. It was argued that there can be no right to privacy for information already in the public domain. Examples cited were the data disclosed by citizens for voter registration, biometrics for passports, and for property registration.

This is a troubling argument, which seems to consider data given to the government as being in the public domain. For example, people provide their addresses for acquiring a voter card, but this does not thereby mean that the address is in the public domain and can be published on, say the internet.

Similarly, looking at the property registrar, the registrar is open to the public. However, if a data broker preparing a file on an individual for commercial purposes accesses and includes data from such a registrar, it will be a violation of privacy. These are issues which need to be looked into.

Need for robust mechanism to protect Aadhaar like databases
On this, reference was made to census laws, for example, which contain confidentiality provisions. The privacy provisions in the Aadhaar Act were pointed to, but the Judges pointed to their insufficiency. For example, while biometric data is protected, information like medical histories and mobile numbers were not. The judges pointed to the need for a robust mechanism to protect the privacy of such huge databases from persons like commercial service providers, who were likely to spam people with messages and advertisements.

Kharak Singh and MP Sharma cases
On these cases, the main argument made was that they had specifically denied the right to privacy. Moreover, Constituent Assembly while framing the Constitution had denied privacy as a fundamental right. To this, the bench observed that much had changed since the times the Constituent Assembly debated and rejected the right to privacy.

Will privacy be held to be an independent fundamental right?
On the whole, the apex Court appears to be reluctant to completely reject privacy as a fundamental right. If upheld, the main question that will remain will be its recognition as an independent fundamental right or as a right restricted to the protected facets under existing fundamental rights.

(Sources of the arguments- Written Submissions of the counsels at Live Law and live coverage of the case on Twitter handles of Prasanna S and SFLC).


Published Date: Jul 28, 2017 03:44 pm | Updated Date: Jul 28, 2017 03:44 pm