People’s Tribunal on Attack on Educational Institutions in India
Citizens Forum for Civil Liberties (CFCL) gave a written testimony before “People’s Tribunal on Attack on Educational Institutions in
India” against biometric Aadhaar and CCTV surveillance in educational campuses. The text of the testimony was handed over to the jury on 13 April, 2018 at the Constitution Club after briefing the founding members of People’s Commission on Shrinking Democratic Space in India (PCSDS). The summary of the testimony is as under:
All schools, colleges, universities and research centres under State Governments and Central Government have introduced and are introducing the procedure of Unique Identification (UID)/Aadhaar Biometric Attendance Recording System and CCTV system for students, teachers and non-teaching employees. It is mandatory in both private and public institutions .The capturing of fingerprints and iris scan and CCTV is illegal and illegitimate. If this is not stopped then this will pave the way for genetic determinism and legitimization of eugenic thinking. The students and teachers and non-teaching staff should not be compelled to enrol for UID/Aadhaar or any other biometric identification.
The jury panel for the tribunal consists of Prof.Romila Thapar (Chair), Justice (Retd.) AP Shah, Justice (Retd.) Hosbet Suresh,
Justice (Retd.) BG KolsePatil, Prof. Amit Bhaduri, Dr. Uma Chakravarty, Prof. TK Oommen, Prof.Vasanthi Devi, Prof. KM Shrimali,
Prof.Ghanshyam Shah, Prof.Meher Engineer, Prof.Kalpana Kannabiran and Ms. Pamela Philipose.
The objective of the tribunal is to record and enquire – the repression, surveillance and administrative actions under which the
students, faculty and employees of institutes of higher learning are subjected to; the deliberate criminalisation of students and teachers
in various parts of the country; increasing government and State interference; the undermining of the Constitution and Constitutional
values and; the structural discrimination faced by students based on caste, gender and region.
The jury panel took note of the facts presented before them on April 11 and 12 and on April 13 at Constitution Club of India. It will come out with a comprehensive report.
The tribunal has been organized by People’s Commission on Shrinking Democratic Space in India (PCSDS) which is a national level membership based collective of human rights organisations, democratic rights activists, social movements and concerned individuals who have come together with the objective of responding to and advocating the issues of freedoms of opinion, expression, association, assembly, dissent, protest and all other rights, including harassment and criminalisation, of all human rights defenders. PCSDS was formed in May 2016 through a National Convention after a series of consultations at state, regional and national levels. For more information on PCSDS, please visit www.pcsds.in.
This is the first PCSDS people’s tribunal. PCSDS secretariat has documented 120 testimonies of students and teachers from more than 30 universities and higher educational institutions spread over 18 states.
Brief details about the incident
Ministry of Human Resources Development (MHRD), University Grants Commission (UGC), educational institutions in the States are coercing students, teachers and non-teaching employees to implement biometric attendance system and CCTV system. There has been pBottom of Form
rotests against the implementation of biometric attendance system i.e. an attendance system by way of biometric scanning by the students, teachers and non-teaching employees and CCTV system are underway.
Such bio-metric attendance and CCTV system is an attempt to enslave the students, teachers and non-teaching employees. This implementing is against the interest of students, teachers and non-teaching employees because this system constitutes continuous strict surveillance.
The opposition to the biometric attendance and CCTV installation is there because it entails keeping scan of faces and iris scan eyes of students, teachers and non-teaching employees and keep them online on computer/internet. This fact in itself is illegitimate, dangerous and worth pondering. The scanned photograph and biometric details can be, intentionally or unintentionally, misused by any agency (the one that will be privy or have access to the data.). For instance, if any criminal and terrorist organizations gains access to this data, then it can be used with catastrophic repercussion. In such an eventuality, who will be responsible? The situation accentuates in case of female workers and employees.
It will cast severe question mark on their integrity and respect. Keeping these things in mind only, in a similar instance i.e. Aadhaar (Unique Identification Number System) the Supreme Court gave a verdict, in which, it categorically said that forcibly implementing the biometric identification infringes on the fundamental right of privacy. It is a well established covenant world over that without permission no one, not even the Government, can keep physical identification of a person. The constitution of India, as is well known, prohibits any agency/ management/ institution, whatsoever it may be, from keeping such data as physical identification of a person under its control and access without one’s due permission. The provisions of Identification of Prisoners Act, 1920 and Census Act, 1948 demonstrate it.
Let’s assume that there are 100 students, teachers and non-teaching employees standing in front of the machine to punch-in their attendance, if one of them take minimum of 30 seconds (though in reality it may take much more), then for the last one will take extra 50 minutes to punch-in his/her attendance. That means he/she will have to leave for the work 50 minutes before the schedule. Same will be the case for punch-out. Who will be responsible for this wastage of time and who will compensate for this loss?
The confidence of students, teachers and non-teaching employees is vital. In case of the machine malfunctioning or it being out of order, or if it fails to record attendance even after saying “thank you” i.e. in case of false recording of attendance, and hence in case of attendance dispute arising there from, what proof will the worker have in his possession to claim that he/she was present?
As is becoming as clear as day light from the above facts, it is ludicrous as to why the governments are wasting at all a fortune as big as thousands of lakhs or crores of rupees on installing the biometric system.
The main intention is to have total control over the life of students, teachers and non-teaching employees is simply excessive and unnecessary.
It is noteworthy that one of the arguments given by management of Eastern Coalfields Ltd, Jhanjhra Area. Jhanjhra, Raniganj, Burdwan, West Bengal is that it will increase production. The motive of installing CCTV inside the mines and offices, too, has to be seen in this light. In reality, the intention of the management is to increase the production by way of excessively pressurising the workers. This is applicable to students, teachers and non-teaching employees as well.
The truth is that precondition of increasing production and fruitfulness is that workers, students, teachers and non-teaching employees must have a joyful family life. It is vital that they get the necessary 8 hours of leisure, their homes are clean and healthy, they get proper transport and there are such safety measures as are necessary. But the governments seldom think of bringing these qualitative changes in. They have not been able to even provide clean drinking water in the schools, colleges and universities.
The Delhi University Teachers’ Association (DUTA) and Delhi University College Karamchari Union (DUCKU) have also protested against the installation and implementation of Bio Metric Attendance and CCTV system. Similar protests are going on in several schools, colleges, universities and research centres.
-Recommend stoppage of Unique Identification (UID)/Aadhaar Biometric Attendance Recording System and CCTV system for saving present and future students and teachers from genetic determinism and legitimization of eugenic thinking.
- The students and teachers and non-teaching staff should not be compelled to enrol for UID/Aadhaar or any other biometric identification.
Citizens Forum for Civil Liberties (CFCL)
For Contact Details of CFCL: See the attached text of the testimony.