Aadhaar/UID is an assault on privacy and citizens rights, it should be boycotted
Sheila Dikshit’s budget speech ignores Punjab & Haryana High Court order, ongoing case in Supreme Court & Parliamentary Committee recommendations
New Delhi: Sheila Dikshit, the Chief Minister of Govt. of NCT of Delhi in her budget speech continues to promote biometric profiling by Aadhaar/Unique Identification (UID) number ignoring Punjab & Haryana High Court order, the ongoing case in Supreme Court, Parliamentary Committee recommendations, concerns of the National Human Rights Commission and protests by citizens. Delhi Government’s decision to make ‘voluntary’ 12 digit number Aadhaar/UID number mandatory is an act of bullying which must be challenged, resisted and boycotted.
Seventeen eminent citizens including Justice A.P. Shah, former Chief Justice of High Court of Delhi and Justice VR Krishna Iyer, former judge, Supreme Court of India have asked for the halting of the Aadhaar/UID project. The entire government machinery is hiding the fact that fundamentally UID is not a proof of identity, it is an identifier contained in the Central Identities Data Repository (CIDR) of (UID)/Aadhaar Numbers.
The Aadhaar is unfolding through an undemocratic process and is primarily aimed at Surveillance, Profiling, Tracking and Convergence. The eminent citizen’s statement read: “This is a project that could change the status of the people in this country, with effects on our security and constitutional rights, and a consideration of all aspects of the project should be undertaken with this in mind.”
In her speech, the Delhi Chief Minister said, “While like the rest of the country we launched Direct Benefit transfer, which has Aadhar linked bank accounts at its core, we have gone further by utilising it for Annshree and Kerosene-free city schemes.”
She added, “…we have succeeded in launching of new plan programmes of “Dilli Annshree Yojana”. 31,617 beneficiaries of this scheme have been covered till mid-March under this Direct Benefit Transfer Aadhar-linked bank account scheme. Cash @ `600 per month has already been transferred to these beneficiaries with effect from April, 2012. Since our technology platform was being rolled out as a pilot, we were not been able to enrol all the eligible in the time frame prescribed. Hence, my government has decided to extend the period up to July 31st 2013, so that all who are enrolled by then would get the benefit from April 2012.”
Referring to Dilli Swavalamban Yojana (DSY) for unorganised and informal sector in terms of numbers of workers and enterprises, a co-contributory pension scheme, in collaboration with the Swavalamban scheme of the Central Government, she said “We will make DSY Aadhar-linked and also ensure universal coverage.”
In two specific orders dated December 18, 2012 and December 20, 2012, Revenue Department of the Delhi government has made Aadhaar mandatory for all citizens who want to access government services like “SC/SC Certificate, OBC Certificate, Domicile Certificate, Income Certificate, Birth Order, Death Order, Surviving Member Certificate, Solvency Certificate, Nationality Certificate, Registration of Marriages under Hindu Marriage Act, Registration of Marriages under Special Marriage Act, Solemnization of Marriages, Registration of various documents in the Sub Registrar’s Office”.The orders are attached. It is noteworthy that the official website of UIDAI has clearly mentioned that, Aadhaar enrolment is voluntaryhttp://uidai.gov.in/what-is-aadhaar-number.html. The Aadhaar Enrollment Form which declares on the top of the form that it is voluntary is attached.
Opposition parties in Delhi appear complicit as they are not asking the glaring question: if Aadhaar is voluntary, why is government finding out ways and means to make it mandatory’?
Delhi citizens and opposition parties are being taken for ride. Congress-led Delhi government has asked the State Election Commission to have provisions for Aadhaar enrolments at the Voters’ Registration Centres (VRCs) across the city and all 70 VRCs across the city are to provide single-window service by enrolling people for Aadhaar from February 25, 2013. Opposition parties should pay heed to the ramifications of some 200 venues in Delhi where Delhi residents are being enrolled for Aadhaar/UID.
In a setback to such undemocratic efforts to bulldoze Aadhaar/UID and related schemes, following the direction issued to the Union of India and Union Territory of Chandigarh by Punjab and Haryana High Court in the matter of Civil Writ Petition 569 of 2013 filed in the High Court against Union of India and others, the Executive Order for making Unique Identification (UID)/Aadhaar mandatory has been withdrawn. In its order the bench of Justice A K Sikri, Chief Justice and Justice Rakesh Kumar Jain dated February 19, 2013 had not noted that the petition “raises a pure question of law.” Since the Executive Order was withdrawn, the case too was disposed of March 2, 2013 with a two page order. The Order observes, “In this writ petition filed as PIL, the petitioner has challenged the vires of notification issued by Union of India for making it compulsory to have UID Cards.”
It is further observed that “Second issue raised in this petition is that vide order dated 5.12.2012, respondent No.3 i.e. Deputy Commissioner, U.T., Chandigarh has given directions to the Branch In charge Registration-cum-Accountant, office of Registering & Licensing Authority, Chandigarh not to accept any application for registration of vehicle and grant of learner/regular driving licence without UID card.” Union Territory of Chandigarh failed to inform the Court the UID is not a card but an identification number based on biometric data without any legal mandate. One of the prayers in the petition in Chandigarh had sought issuance of a writ in the nature of certiorari to quash Executive order dated 5.12.2012 passed by respondent no.3 passed in violation of Motor Vehicles Act, 1988 and Central Motor Vehicle Rules, 1989 vide which UID has been mandatory for the registration of vehicles and grant of learner/ regular driving licence.
In a significant development, P. Karunakaran, Chairperson, Parliamentary Committee on Subordinate Legislation has accepted the petition with regard biometric data collection related to Planning Commission’s Aadhaar/Unique Identification (UID) Number and Home Ministry’s National Population Register (NPR) on March 18, 2013. The petition was submitted by Citizens Forum for Civil Liberties (CFCL), which as earlier given testimony before the Parliamentary Committee that has rejected the UID Bill. The petition before the Parliamentary Standing Committee on Subordinate legislation draws attention towards how all the residents and citizens of India are being made subordinate to prisoner’s status by the ongoing collection of their “biometric information” that includes finger prints, iris scan for permanent storage in a Centralized Identities Data Register (CIDR) and National Population Register (NPR). This is being done ‘as per an approved strategy” by Planning Commission and Union Ministry of Home Affairs without any legal mandate.
In a related development, in an order date December 27, 2012 addressed to Secretary, Union Ministry of Home Affairs, National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) has communicated human rights concerns regarding UID and Radio Frequency Identification (RFID) submitted to it by CFCL. Earlier, NHRC had expressed its deep concerns and apprehensions about UID and “biometric information” in its submission before the Parliamentary Standing Committee on Finance.
In the matter of now rejected National Identification Authority of India (NIAI) Bill, 2010, “NHRC’s views on the NIAI Bill, 2010″ in the Human Rights Newsletter (Vol. 18 No.8, August 2011) reveals that UID/Aadhaar Number has dangerous ramifications is quite relevant in this regard. NHRC’s view was presented to the Parliamentary Standing Committee (PSC) on Finance. The PSC submitted its report to the Parliament on December 13, 2011 rejecting the UID Bill.
Echoing NHRC’s view on “need for protection of information” and “the possibility of tampering with stored biometric information” in paragraph 5 (page no. 7 of the NHRC newsletter) and “disclosure of information in the interest of national security” mentioned in paragraph 9 (page no.8 of the newsletter).
On UID Number, the Draft Paper on Privacy Bill stated, “Data privacy and the need to protect personal information is almost never a concern when data is stored in a decentralized manner. Data that is maintained in silos is largely useless outside that silo and consequently has a low likelihood of causing any damage. However, all this is likely to change with the implementation of the UID Project. One of the inevitable consequences of the UID Project will be that the UID Number will unify multiple databases. As more and more agencies of the government sign on to the UID Project, the UID Number will become the common thread that links all those databases together. Over time, private enterprise could also adopt the UID Number as an identifier for the purposes of the delivery of their services or even for enrolment as a customer.”
The Draft Paper on Privacy Bill discloses, “Once this happens, the separation of data that currently exists between multiple databases will vanish.” This poses a threat to the identity of citizens and the idea of residents of the state as private persons will be forever abandoned.
In view of NHRC’s observation that UID/Aadhaar number will lead to discrimination due to its distinction between residents and citizens in the name of “delivery of various benefits and services” and “weaker sections of society” is quite stark and merits attention of Delhi residents in particular. It has already been admitted that “There is no data protection statute in the country”. In such a scenario gullible citizens are being made to submit their biometric information to illegal and illegitimate entities.
For Details: Gopal Krishna, Member, Citizens Forum for Civil Liberties (CFCL), Mb: 9818089660, (Delhi), E-mail: [email protected]
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