Citizens' Issues
Bombay HC directs UIDAI, Centre to reply on safety concerns regarding Aadhaar and UID

While the UIDAI has maintained Aadhaar is voluntary, why then people are being threatened that they cannot access any services or benefits unless they enrol for the UID scheme, the PIL says

 
The Bombay High Court today directed the Unique Identification Authority of India (UIDAI) and Central government to decide within three months on a representation questioning the lack of safeguards in the Aadhaar and UID. The court was hearing a Public Interest Litigation (PIL) filed by Vickram Krishna, Kamayani Bali Mahabal, Yogesh Pawar, Dr Nagarjuna G, and Prof R Ramkumar (TISS).
 
It has been found that the project is “full of uncertainty in technology as the complex scheme is built upon untested, unreliable technology and several assumptions”. This is a serious concern given that the project is about fixing identity through the use of technology, especially biometrics. Neither the Proof of Concept studies nor any assessment studies done by the UIDAI have been able to affirm the possibility of maintaining accuracy as the database expands to accommodate 1.2 billion people. The estimated failure of biometrics is expected to be as high as 15%.
 
Advocate for the petitioners, Mihir Desai, told the court that there were severe concerns on the issue of safety systems, privacy and security of the people. A data base of this scale of 1.2 billion people’s fingerprints and iris scans has never been created. Thus the entire proposition for a population base such as India is completely untested and unproven. The ID system in UK ID Cards’ non-duplication was entirely scrapped. It is estimated that approximately 5% of any population has unreadable fingerprints, either due to scars or aging or illegible prints. In the Indian environment, experience has shown that the failure to enrol is as high as 15% due to the prevalence of a huge population dependent on manual labour.
 
One of the biggest illegalities being committed under the Aaadhaar scheme is by making it mandatory through coercive conditions. UIDAI has always, repeatedly stated that Aadhaar is a voluntary scheme. Thus, enrolment for Aadhaar is a voluntary act. The NIAI draft Bill, which seeks to legitimatise the functioning of the first respondent, is so worded to establish that Aadhaar is optional and not compulsory. However, in its premature implementation, in practice the scheme is gradually being made non-voluntary and mandatory. This is made worse by adoption of coercive pre-conditions by different government departments.
 
The Supreme Court has repeatedly upheld the right to privacy within the right to life in Article 21, and any restriction must be justified through a rational and reasonable statutory procedure. UIDAI, as it presently stands, is prima facie unconstitutional for contravening the right to privacy without providing any safeguards, procedures and guidelines.
 
Adv Mihir Desai argued that the UID was promoted as a “voluntary entitlement”. Now, people are being threatened that they cannot access any services or institutions unless they are enrolled for a UID. The petition submitted stated that the enrolment for Aadhaar is working on an extremely fast pace that it has become impossible to avoid attempts at enrolment. The petitioners submit that such mandatory, non-voluntary and coercive enrolment for Aadhaar is an affront to their to personal integrity, right to make decisions about themselves and the right to dignity all enshrined and developed as indivisible elements of the Right to Life under Article 21 of the Constitution. 
 

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COMMENTS

Jingo

5 years ago

I find it ridiculous that the cooking gas agencies are demanding aadhar cards for extending the cylinders at lower prices.. Not that. Need the subsidy but its another example of the high handed attitude being exhibited by the ministries, and the coercive ways to get people to enroll to aadhar..

Krishnan B S

5 years ago

We had a seminar on Aadhar in Money Life which I saw in You Tube. Sir, all activists against Aadhar in India should come under one roof and fight it unitedly. Otherwise, the Govt and its ministries will make a fool of petitioners !

Suresh

5 years ago

Recently my employee was issued an Aadhaar Card without verifying his address. For his ID proof he submitted his Drivers Licence. In the address column he mentioned his address which was different from that mentioned in the Drivers Licence and yet he was issued the Aadhaar Card.It is therefore quite easy for non Indians to obtain an Aadhaar card. For Pan Cards the Aadhaar card is accepted as an ID proof only and not as an address proof.

Suresh

5 years ago

Recently my employee was issued an Aadhaar Card without verifying his address. For his ID proof he submitted his Drivers Licence. In the address column he mentioned his address which was different from that mentioned in the Drivers Licence and yet he was issued the Aadhaar Card.It is therefore quite easy for non Indians to obtain an Aadhaar card. For Pan Cards the Aadhaar card is accepted as an ID proof only and not as an address proof.

Veeresh Malik

5 years ago

My experience with trying to get hold of an AADHAAR card is that just like the passport appointment booking game, there is a game going on in this case too, and some grease has to be applied as well as shared to speeden up matters.

Lack of transparency and safety in nuke energy may cost Rs3.90 lakh crore

EAS Sarma, former power and finance secretary, fears for safety of nuclear energy because he feels the Department of Atomic Energy that is planning for 60,000 MW has not been transparent and it would eventually cost Rs3.90 lakh crore to Indian taxpayers!

EAS Sarma, former secretary of the government of India (GoI), fears that the Department of Atomic Energy’s (DAE) ambitious program to build several nuclear reactors in the country will come at a price of safety. He believes that the DAE, along with the Nuclear Power Corporation of India (NPCIL), has indulged in impropriety in its dealings with multinationals companies (MNCs) who are assisting DAE in building reactors. By adopting single-vendor purchases from different MNCs, the Indian taxpayer could be forced to pay the price dictated by the MNCs which could run into as much as Rs3.90 lakh crore, he claimed.
 

Mr Sarma, in a letter to the prime minister, says: “Procurement of reactors through single-vendor purchases precludes accurate price discovery. In the case of imported nuclear reactors, the problem is severely compounded by the fact that India is then compelled to buy not only the reactors but also the accompanying fuel, the price of which is in itself open-ended and is further subject to escalation beyond India's control. In a competitive bidding procedure, India would have been in an eminent position to set down the specifications of the reactors, their threshold safety features and the parameters that could regulate the price escalations in a transparent manner. By resorting to non-transparent, single-vendor procurement of imported nuclear reactors and the accompanying fuel, I feel that DAE and NPCIL have openly flouted the General Financial Rules (GFRs), in particular GFR 137 and the guidelines issued by the CVC.”
 

A competitive bidding system as opposed to a single-vendor purchase would mean price discovery and reduced prices as MNCs (as well as locals) would vie for prestigious contracts. Furthermore, a competitive bidding system would ensure that norms are strictly adhered to on the basis of competence and past track record. This would ensure pre-qualification of certain vendors who are capable of building nuclear reactors that complies with the highest safety and quality protocols.
 

Further more, under GFRs, it states: “every authority delegated with the financial powers of procuring goods in public interest shall have the responsibility and accountability to bring efficiency, economy, transparency in matters relating to public procurement and for fair and equitable treatment of suppliers and promotion of competition in public procurement”.
 

EAS Sarma had pointed out in his letter to the PM that the DAE and NPCIL have not complied with the said regulation and therefore demanded an investigation be made to bring about forth in their dealings with MNCs in a transparent manner. He has also called for independent audits by the CAG (Comptroller and Auditor General of India) as well as the Central Vigilance Commission (CVC) to investigate possible vigilant angle in DAE and NPCIL dealings with multinationals.
 

Earlier, even the CAG had come down heavily on the nuclear establishment, especially on its regulator, Atomic Energy Regulatory Board (AERB), and some startling facts were discovered. Apparently, the CAG has found several deficiencies in the way AERB is operated, with hardly any tooth, and which could even affect nuclear plant workers. We had written about this earlier over here: Widespread support for CAG findings on nuclear technology from activists
 

This is not the first time that Mr Sarma had written to the PM. On 17 December 2011, he had written to PM about the civil nuclear liability law. He had stated: “DAE's latest move to enact the rules under the civil liability law went beyond the ambit of the law itself, placing an artificial limit on the time span beyond which the operating company could pass on the liability of an accident to the reactor supplier. In other words, if a Fukushima-like accident takes place during the life cycle of a reactor, say, after five or ten years of its installation, the Indian operator cannot pass on the liability to the reactor supplier, thereby shifting the burden to the Indian taxpayer.”
 

The DAE’s ambitions to set up as 60,000 MW of nuclear power is so mindboggling that it could predate strict safety and compliance standards required to ensure that nuclear plants do not leak or meltdown. Since DAE and NPCIL will have to import reactors and fuels from one vendor, Indian taxpayers could be asked to fork over as much as Rs3.90 lakh crore towards nuclear power alone! By bending backwards to MNC pressure vis-à-vis single vendor agreement, there could be chance that reactor design may compromise safety standards, especially post Fukushima nuclear fallout in Japan after the tsunami.

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Will RBI be held accountable?

RBI focuses on harassing the aam aadmi with myriad rules while banks aid the power elite to launder money at will

In a sensational exposé on 14th March, Cobrapost revealed how executives of the top three private banks – HDFC, Axis and ICICI Bank—were openly and brazenly helping to launder black money by offering a slew of legitimate banking devices including their own accounts and...

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