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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Saturday, August 5, 2017

11714 - Aadhaar SC hearing ends, respondents argue not all aspects of privacy should be protected under Constitution - Factor Daily


Alok Prasanna Kumar August 3, 2017

Story Highlights
  • Respondents argued that while some aspects of privacy are already protected under the Constitution not all aspects of privacy are necessarily protected or should be protected under the Constitution
  • It remains to be seen whether it is possible to break up the right to privacy into aspects which can and cannot be protected under the Constitution
  • The Supreme Court reserves judgement. The final judgement should be out before August 27 when Chief Justice of India Jagdish Singh Khehar retires
The proposed one-day hearing of the nine-judge bench of the Supreme Court (SC) ended on Wednesday, August 2, after six full days of hearing and nearly three weeks after it began. 

Though the reference was made to the nine judges to answer this question: whether the previous judgements of the SC in MP Sharma v Satish Chandra and Kharak Singh v State of UP were still in good law, the scope has expanded slowly but steadily into requiring the apex court to decide whether the right to privacy is a fundamental right, and what aspects of such right to privacy enjoy constitutional protection.

The final day saw the respondents wrap up arguments with senior advocate Rakesh Dwivedi continuing from where he left off on Tuesday, August 1, and Gopal Shankarnarayanan for the Centre for Civil Society; Arghya Sengupta (Disclosure: Arghya Sengupta is this writer’s colleague at the Vidhi Centre for Legal Policy where he is a Senior Resident Fellow) for the State of Haryana; and the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India also making submissions.

Dwivedi’s approach of slicing and dicing the right to privacy was taken forward by Shankarnarayanan and Sengupta, both of whom argued that while some aspects of privacy are already protected under the Constitution not all aspects of privacy are necessarily protected or should be protected under the Constitution

Dwivedi’s approach of slicing and dicing the right to privacy was taken forward by Shankarnarayanan and Sengupta, both of whom argued that while some aspects of privacy are already protected under the Constitution (such as the right to choose and the right to one’s bodily autonomy) not all aspects of privacy are necessarily protected or should be protected under the Constitution. (You can read Dwivedi and Shankaranarayanan’s submissions here).

The post-lunch session saw the counsels for the petitioners take a few minutes each to rebut the main points made by the respondents. With time running short and the judges having indicated that they wanted to wrap up the hearing by the end of the day, most chose to rebut a specific point made by some of the lawyers for the respondents. In addition, the State of Kerala also joined four other non-NDA ruled states to argue that the Constitution did indeed protect a right to privacy. You can read the submissions on behalf of the State of Kerala here.

While the last two counsels’ arguments brought much-needed nuance to the debate, it remains to be seen whether it is possible to break up the right to privacy into aspects which can and cannot be protected under the Constitution

While the last two counsels’ arguments brought much-needed nuance to the debate (as Justice Rohinton Nariman acknowledged), it remains to be seen whether it is possible to break up the right to privacy into aspects which can and cannot be protected under the Constitution. One argument advanced by respondents almost consistently was that protecting all aspects of privacy is not desirable for reasons ranging from impinging other rights and limiting citizen choice, to standing in the way of social welfare laws. Irrespective of the reference question framed, the actual crux of the differences between the sides essentially came down to this: can the state compel you to part with certain information about yourself with no constitutional limits on what it may use it for and how it may use it?
This must not be seen purely in the context of the Aadhar law and scheme. It has implications for a whole range laws and schemes of the government which require you to part with some information about yourself, not necessarily biometric data. 
Take for example the question: should the government be allowed to collect caste, religion and socio-economic status data? The answer cannot obviously be a blanket yes or no. It will have to depend on how the government is collecting the data, what it promises to use it for, and what the statutory protections are to ensure that such data is not misused in any way.

The SC has reserved judgement on these questions and the final judgement may be out in a few weeks, at any rate before August 27 when Chief Justice of India Jagdish Singh Khehar retires

The range of misuse can be from annoyance (spam calls) to harassment (denial of welfare entitlements) to violence (targeted communal riots). This raises the question as to whether it is ever possible to dissect aspects of the right to privacy as argued? The laws may themselves may not permit such misuse, but given India’s long and troubled experience of such misuse of data, should we leave it to the government to decide when and how much it can allow use and misuse of data collected from individuals? And is it possible at all to say that absence of privacy of one’s information will not affect the right to choose or the right to bodily autonomy?

The SC has reserved judgement on these questions and the final judgement may be out in a few weeks, at any rate before August 27 when Chief Justice of India Jagdish Singh Khehar retires. Given the complexity of the issues raised and their implications for the future, this isn’t a judgement that can be hammered out overnight. Given the spirited debate multiple judges engaged in with the counsels arguing the case, it is likely that we will see multiple opinions rendered by the judges. One hopes that whatever they say and decide, the conclusions of the bench can be easily discerned and is not something that will itself be debated in future judgements!

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