PFC has published names, complete addresses, telephone or mobile numbers and email IDs of around 1.2 lakh individuals, which raises several questions of privacy and investor protection
In yet another instance that proves the government and its units are insensitive to issues of transparency and privacy, Power Finance Corp (PFC) has published complete data of its investors on the web. This too when, concerns are being raised about the government's unique identification (UID) program that not only collects detailed information, but also takes biometric data like iris and finger scans. This UID data is accessible for anyone who is associated with the UID Authority of India (UIDAI) as registrar.
In a stunning case of placing private data out in the public domain PFC, which collected money from investors for its infrastructure bonds, has published names, addresses, telephone or mobile numbers and email IDs of around 1.2 lakh individuals. The revelation of this data has angered several investors. "I was not aware of my personal data being uploaded on the website. This is a clear violation of my privacy," says a Mumbai-based investor.
This is surprising, especially when last year Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee rejected a proposal from National Intelligence Grid (NatGrid) to access details of all bank accounts. Mr Mukherjee, in a hand written note, had warned that intrusion into the privacy of bank depositors will discredit the banking system and people will start using other modes for securing their funds.
However, either PFC is not aware of the Finance Minister’s opinion or does not understand the difference between transparency in its operations and violating personal privacy.
Currently, the UIDAI is under heavy criticism on privacy issues, use of biometrics and the incentives being paid for enrolling more residents. Many voices have been raised against the forceful implementation of the UID project, with most objections focused on concerns over privacy. Advocate and activist Kamayani Bali Mahabal, who started petitioning Prime Minister Dr Manmohan Singh against UID scheme or Aadhaar, said, "Privacy law is still being made, and until it is in place, the UIDAI should not be doing what it is, and it certainly cannot be allowed to share information as it proposes to do under the 'information consent' clause in its form."
Although, the Constitution does not explicitly specify privacy rights, the Supreme Court in a landmark judgement (Unni Krishnan, J.P & Ors. Etc., versus State of Andhra Pradesh & Ors,) on 4 February 1993, had ruled that "This Court has held that several un-enumerated rights fall within Article (21) since personal liberty is of widest amplitude."
We sent a mail to PFC officials, who assured us that the mail has been forwarded to concerned department and they will act upon the issue at the earliest.
399 MPs owe Rs7 crore for telephone bills. RTI activist Subhash Chandra Agrawal suggests services like telephone, water, electricity, etc should be disconnected for non-payment of any single bill, like is being done in case of normal citizens
Moneylife has earlier reported on MPs, including the Speaker of the Lok Sabha, defaulting on rent for illegally occupied government bungalows http://moneylife.in/article/lok-sabha-speaker-owes-govt-rs2-crore-as-unpaid-rent/21589.html. Now, another list on the parliamentarians’ dues has surfaced
Present and former Parliamentarians have collectively run up more than Rs7 crore in telephone bills. In a response to RTI activist Subhash Chandra Agrawal’s query, Mahanagar Telephone Nigam (MTNL) has revealed that 399 present and former parliamentarians have Rs7.10 crores in unpaid telephone dues.
There are six sitting members of Parliament (MPs) in the list, namely: GV Harsha Kumar with Rs2.06 lakh in dues, Ram Sunder Das owing Rs9.49 lakh, Bhakta Charan Das with Rs3.31 lakh, M Krishna Swamy with Rs3.19 lakh, Harsha Vardhan with Rs 36,774 and Narendra Budhania with Rs1.33 lakh in unpaid telephone bills. Together, they owe some Rs19 lakh.
Among the former parliamentarians featuring on this list are Chhedi Prasad, TK Rama Murthy and G Pratap Reddy. 57 of those in the list have passed away.
Former Rajya Sabha member Janardhan Jadav has the highest outstanding amount of Rs22.29 lakh, followed by Basava Raj Patil (Rs17.2 lakh) and K Mohd Khan (Rs15.28 lakh). Other big defaulters are GC Munda with Rs12 lakh in dues, MH Gohil with Rs11.6 lakh and Bahadur Singh with Rs10.5 lakh in dues.
Mr Agrawal said, “It is not clear how MTNL will recover this amount of money. Rule should be auto-deduct of all government bills from salaries and pensions of present and former Parliamentarians. No-dues certificate should be made mandatory from contestants before filing a nomination for any election. Services like telephone, water, electricity, etc should be disconnected for non-payment of any single bill, like is being done in case of normal citizens.”