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.


Wednesday, August 9, 2017

11738 - How governments manipulate India's Constitution - Daily O

Democracy cannot override constitutional balances.
 |  5-minute read |   07-08-2017


http://www.dailyo.in/politics/modi-bjp-nda-constitution-india-supreme-court/story/1/18808.html

A few days ago, Congress lawyer-politician Kapil Sibal approached the Supreme Court pleading that the NOTA option be removed from the Rajya Sabha election in Gujarat. On August 3, the Supreme Court called this effort opportunistic. "When it suited you, you did not come. You came here on the eve of elections," it said.

Manipulation
The Gujarat Assembly is in turmoil due to defections after six Congress MLAs switched to the BJP camp amidst high drama. The BJP regime has become a symbol for manipulation and intrigue. With President's rule in Arunachal Pradesh and Uttarakhand (before 2017 Uttarakhand Assembly elections) firmly in mind, along with post-election manoeuvres in Manipur and Goa, the BJP has grown in public imagination as one that will manipulate the Constitution itself to comprehensibly govern India.

In many ways, democracy lies in the fear of all this which is capable of manipulating democratic processes to produce undemocratic results. With Kerala burning over the death of an RSS worker, there is now a demand for President's Rule in the state, which was infamously a victim of such in 1959 and many times thereafter.

Can India's constitutional democracy survive this onslaught? Curiously, this onslaught has come from both sides in India's independent history. The Indira Gandhi years (1967-77) were massive examples of such manipulation. Now the BJP era from 2014 represents the second high point of manipulated democracy. Defections are back. President's Rule is back. Parliament is threatened by majoritarianism. This essay is about the internal manipulation of the Parliament itself.

Recently, the Aadhaar Act, 2016 was passed off as a Money Bill to disempower the Rajya Sabha to make amendments. The example is a telling one as indeed, the issue is of a Money Bill. 

Why was this done? All Bills require the attention of both Houses. If they disagree, unlike England, a joint session would have to be called (Article 108). Jaitley has often threatened joint sessions, but such thoughts have suffered forbearance.

A joint session would not have been an exercise in constitutionality or to restore matters constitutionally, but using numbers for the Lok Sabha to overwhelm the Rajya Sabha. Such a manipulation should be a last resort. For the Aadhaar Bill, the way out appeared to be to call it a Money Bill, which requires a special procedure (as mentioned in Article 110).
Since the Aadhaar Act contained incidental expenditure in the Consolidated Fund, it was stated to be a Money Bill. Once that is done, the Rajya Sabha can discuss it but not pass amendments binding on the Lok Sabha. That is why this manoeuvre was called the subversion of democracy since it choked up discussion on Aadhaar which does more than using unique identification for service delivery.

Face-off
This created an impasse. Was the Lok Sabha Speaker's certification that this was a Money Bill final? When the matter went to the Supreme Court, a telling exchange took place between the counsel and the court, with Chief Justice JS Khehar confidently declaring, "If the Speaker says green is blue, we will tell blue is blue."

Khehar is fond of making off-the-cuff remarks for drama, but does this mean that the Supreme Court is willing to inquire into the speaker's certification which is part of the parliamentary process into which the Supreme Court does not dare to interfere? If it does, a quarrel of gigantic proportions will be set up between the legislature and the judiciary.

Of course, there is a view that the Supreme Court can, and should step in, to review the speaker's decision. But this is a big step. It is all very well to say that in defection matters, the speaker's decision will not be final as in the Kihoto case (1992). But, we can't have the Supreme Court regulating parliamentary procedures in every finite way.

In such a clash of arms, both institutions will suffer. Indubitably, the Supreme Court has very limited, if any, powers of intervention, while parliamentary proceedings are actually taking place unless Parliament transgresses fundamental rights (as in the UP legislature case (1964) when the Assembly threatened to send High Court judges to jail. Here, as in Cash for-questions case (2007), the Supreme Court will define the privileges of the legislature so that the latter does not become a law unto itself by arrogating unlimited powers to itself. But can the Supreme Court go further?

SC intervention
Take the Money Bill example. While the Bill is going through Parliament (or Assembly), the court cannot interfere. But, after it becomes an Act, can the Supreme Court say that the "procedure" followed was wrong because the Bill could not have been certified as a Money Bill by the Speaker? 

In the UP Lokayukta case (2014) where I appeared, the court took the traditional view that the speaker's view was final.
This gets us back to our original dilemma. If the Parliament blatantly cheats on itself by using ramrod procedures to stifle discussion, does it become a law unto itself? The present answer seems "yes it can". That is a blow to democratic constitutionalism.

We are in danger of the Constitution's internal procedures being grossly abused, and nothing can be done about it. The people seem helpless. Our Constitution rests on two sets of principles: democratic and constitutional. Democracy cannot override constitutional balances. Nor can these "balances" throttle democratic discourse. Today, the BJP is threatening the very fabric of constitutional governance.
(Courtesy of Mail Today.)