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Angry residents of Okhla stop Public hearing on expansion of Jindal's waste based thermal power plant

Written By BiharWatch on Wednesday, January 16, 2019 | 6:52 AM

Jindal's thermal power plant poses threat to present &  future generation of residents

Okhla enveloped in a toxic gas chamber as a consequence of use of such hazardous incinerator technology by the company

Crtique of the Public Hearing and Draft Environment Impact Assessment (EIA) sent to DPCC
A letter signed by the people who came for the protest against illegal and fake public hearing on the expansion of existing waste based thermal power plant of Jindal's company located at Sukhdev Vihar, Okhla, New Delhi has been submitted registering vehement opposition to the project. 
 
The public hearing was scheduled at DM's office at Lajpat Nagar but it did not happen over there. The attached letter describes that people did not allow anyone to enter the rescheduled public hearing venue. The protesters did not allow any camera, not even a single person from Administration and from Delhi Pollution Control Committee to begin the public hearing process. The residents demanded that this public hearing must be considered as null and void ab initio.

A letter has been sent to the Member Secretary, DPCC, Chief Secretary, NCT of Delhi, Deputy Commissioner (South East), NCT of Delhi, Secretary, Union Ministry of Environment, Forests & Climate Change. The signatories included S Khan, President, Sukhdev Vihar Residents Welfare Association, Pocket A, Abdul Rashid Agwan,Convener, Volunteer for Change, Vimal Bhai,National Convenor, National Alliance of Peoples Movements (NAPM) and Gopal Krishna of ToxicWatchAlliance (TWA).

Prior to the Public Hearing, on the Expansion of Waste To Energy Plant of Timarpur Okhla Waste Management Company Ltd at Okhla STP, Near Sukhdev Vihar, New Delhi, ToxicsWatch Alliance (TWA), sent a critique of the public hearing and the Draft EIA of the proposed expansion project and its submission to the EAC on Thermal Power Projects Union Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change and the Sub-Committee on Expansion of Okhla waste to energy from 16 MW to 40 MW Indira Paryavaran Bhavan.

The critique concludes that there is a logical compulsion to withdraw the environmental clearance given to this plant in order to save present and future generation of residents from being enveloped in a toxic gas chamber as a consequence of use of such hazardous incinerator technology adopted for generating energy from waste which admittedly has hazardous waste characteristics.

For Details: Gopal Krishna, ToxicsWatch Alliance (TWA) Mb: 9818089660, Email: krishnagreen@gmail.com, Web: www.toxicswatch.org

Ramifications of relationship between e-commerce laws like Aadhaar Act, DNA Bill and other laws-XVI

Written By BiharWatch on Tuesday, January 08, 2019 | 3:23 AM


Abnormality manifests itself in myriad ways. The manifesto titled “2083: A European Declaration of Independence” brought out by Norwegian gunman and neo-Crusader, Anders Behring Breivik who carried out the heinous attacks on his fellow citizens is actually a unique identity manifesto. This manifesto refers to the word "identity" over 100 times, "unique" over 40 times and "identification" over 10 times. There is reference to "state-issued identity cards", "converts’ identity cards", "identification card", "fingerprints", "DNA" etc. Is it not true that only a misanthrope can approve of it?

Aadhaar and Other Laws (Amendment) Bill, 2018 has brought the relationship of Aadhaar (Targeted Delivery of Financial and Other Subsidies, Benefits and Services) Act, 2016 with Indian Telegraph Act, 1885, and the Prevention of Money Laundering Act, 2002 to light. Notably, Aadhaar Act which was enacted for "assigning of unique identity numbers" to such individuals who have "resided in India for a period or periods amounting in all to one hundred and eighty-two days or more in the twelve months immediately preceding the date of application for enrolment" has been found to be questionable in the verdict of the 5-Judge Constitution Bench of the Supreme Court. 

Earlier, Finance Act 2017 had brought the relationship between Income Tax Act, Aadhaar Act and Companies Act, 2013 to the fore. The expert committee on data protection framework has recorded that at last 50 existing laws will be impacted by any enactment of data protection law including Indian Telegraph Act, 1885 and Prevention of Money Laundering Act, 2002 besides Information Technology Act, 2000.  It has also suggested at least two dozen amendments to the Aadhaar Act, 2016 “from a data protection perspective.” It failed to deal with the DNA Technology (Use and Application) Regulation Act, 2018 which has now been passed by Lok Sabha without enacting right to data protection and privacy law.

Both Aadhaar legislation and DNA legislation are structurally linked. Biometrics is turning the human body into the universal ID card of the future. As per Section 2 (G) of Aadhaar Act 2016, “biometric information” means photograph, fingerprint, Iris scan, or any other biological attributes specified by regulations. Thus, it clearly includes biological attributes like voice print and DNA. Human DNA profiling is aimed at regulating the use of Deoxyribose Nucleic Acid (DNA) analysis of human body substances profiles and to establish the DNA Profiling Board for laying down the standards for laboratories, collection of human body substances, custody trail from collection to reporting and also to establish a National DNA Data Bank and for matters connected therewith or incidental thereto. The Bill provides for procurement of “Intimate body sample” which means a sample of blood, semen or any other tissue, fluid, urine, or pubic hair, a dental impression; or a swab taken from a person’s body orifice other than mouth obtained through “Intimate forensic procedure”.  The intimate forensic procedure means the following forensic procedures, namely:- an external examination of the genital or anal area, the buttocks and also breasts in the case of a female breast; the taking of a sample of blood; the taking of a sample of pubic hair; the taking of a sample by swab or washing from the external genital or anal area, the buttocks and also breasts in the case of a female; the taking of a sample by vacuum suction, by scraping or by lifting by tape from the external genital or anal area, the buttocks and also breasts in the case of a female; the taking of a dental impression and the taking of a photograph or video recording of, or an impression or cast of a wound from, the genital or anal area, the buttocks and also breasts in the case of a female.

When one looks at the definition of the "Biometrics" which "means the technologies that measure and analyse human body characteristics, such as 'fingerprints', 'eye retinas and irises', 'voice patterns', "facial patterns', 'hand measurements' and 'DNA' for authentication purposes" as per Information Technology (Reasonable security practices and procedures and sensitive personal data or information) Rules, 2011 under section 87 read with section 43A of Information Technology Act, 2000, it becomes clear that the plan of data collection does not end with collection of finger prints and iris scan, it goes quite beyond it.

The fact remains biometric data like finger print, voice print, iris scan and DNA do not reveal citizenship. While use of biometric technology, an advanced technique for the identification of humans, based on their characteristics or traits is unfolding there is agency within India too. These traits can be face, fingerprint, iris, voice, signature, palm, vein, and DNA. DNA recognition and vein recognition are the latest and most advanced types of biometric authentication. Biometric technology is being deployed in the application areas like government, travel and immigration, banking and finance, and defense. Government applications cover voting, personal ID, license, building access, etc; whereas travel and immigration use biometric authentication for border access control, immigration, detection of explosives at the airports, etc. Banking and finance sector use biometric authentication for account access, ATM security, etc.

Such profiling is aimed at examination of human biological material that is coded with “the past history and thus dictate the future of an individual’s racial and genealogical makeup, and influence an individual’s medical and psychological makeup.” The proponents of the biometric profiling such tools can make all citizens ‘safe’ forever. Unmindful of dangerous ramifications of such applications, biometric ID's are all set to be made as common as e-mail addresses. Biometric information includes DNA profiling wherein biological traits are taken from a person because by their very nature are unique to the individual and positively identifies that person within an ever larger population as the technology improves.

A decision of the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) is quite relevant in this regard. The case was heard publicly on February 27, 2008, and the unanimous decision of 17 judges was delivered on December 4, 2008. The court found that the “blanket and indiscriminate nature” of the power of retention of the fingerprints, cellular samples, and DNA profiles of persons suspected but not convicted of offenses, failed to strike a fair balance between competing public and private interests and ruled that the United Kingdom had “overstepped any acceptable margin of appreciation” in this regard. The decision is nonappealable. The Court cannot ignore this decision because the Aadhaar Act extends to DNA through the definition of biometric information in Section 2 (g). The Court’s observation must be seen in the context of what happened in 1998 at National Biometric Test Center, San Jose State University set up by the Biometric Consortium, which is the US government interest group on biometric authentication. The centre was asked to testify to the USA's House Committee on Banking and Financial Services hearing on "Biometrics and the Future of Money". This testimony of May 20, 1998 was reprinted under the title, "Biometric Identification and the Financial Services Industry. This centre emerged from a meeting of Biometric Consortium held in 1995 at the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) training facility. This Test Center has defined biometric authentication as "the automatic identification or identity verification of an individual based on physiological and behavioral characteristics". Agencies like US Department of Defence, North Atlantic Treaty Organisation, World Bank Group, USAID and Interpol has been promoting such automatic identification in at least 14 developing countries including Pakistan, Bangladesh and Nepal without any democratic mandate as part of a convergence project to ensure merger of private sector, public sector and citizens sector. The E-identity and biometric UID/Aadhaar related projects are part of World Bank's e-Transform Initiative formally launched on April 23, 2010 for convergence. 

Amendments undertaken through the Aadhaar and Other Laws (Amendment) Bill, 2018 draw from the recommendations made in the report of the expert committee on data protection framework. The report in question was prepared by a conflict of interest ridden expert committee which was constituted by the Ministry of Electronics & Information Technology (UIDAI), the parent ministry of Unique Identification Authority of India (UIDAI) on 31 July, 2017 as part of its argument contending that right to privacy is not a fundamental right in order to avoid adverse verdict by 9-Judge Constitution Bench of the Supreme Court. The report suffers from sterile legal imagination. The verdict categorically rejected government’s position on right to privacy. The members of the expert committee represented government’s position. After the verdict, there was no change in the terms of reference of the expert committee and the composition of the committee despite bitter objections. Not surprisingly, the report has been severely criticized.

In an attempt to undo the verdict of the Supreme Court dated September 26, 2018 in UID/Aadhaar case, the proposed amendment Bill has been moved in the Rajya Sabha by Ravi Shankar Prasad, Minister of Law and Justice, Electronics and Information Technology for consideration. It was passed by the Lok Sabha on 4 January 2019 amidst vociferous protest. In effect, the proposed amendment is an exercise aimed at re-introducing Section 57 of the Aadhaar Act, 2016 which has been pronounced unconstitutional by the Court because it facilitated UID/Aadhaar-based authentication and storage of related data by private commercial and non-commercial entities. The amendments in the Aadhaar Act, Telegraph Act and the Prevention of Money Laundering Act attempts to legalize use of Aadhaar-based e-KYC authentication and storage of Aadhaar related sensitive information by private commercial and non-commercial entities for their electronic commerce. It is apparently being done under the influence of limitless and anonymous donations of beneficial owners of e-technologies and biometric technologies legalized through Finance Act 2017 and Finance Act 2018.   

While verdict of the 5-Judge Constitution Bench of Supreme Court on Union Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology (MEITY)’s Unique Identification (UID)/Aadhaar number database project being implemented by Unique Identification Authority of India (UIDAI), Aadhaar Act 2016 and indiscriminate metadata collection of Indian residents is 1448 pages long, the portion which is authored by Justice Arjan Kumar Singh is only 567 pages long. This part of the order has been written by him but it has been signed by 45th Chief Justice of India Dipak Misra and Justice A M Khanwilkar. Justice J Chelameswar who was the presiding judge of the 3-Judge Bench of the Court who referred the matter to the Constitution Bench by his order was not made part of the Constitution Bench set up by Justice Misra who made himself its part although had never heard the case. In fact when he was made a member of an earlier Bench to hear this very case he had disassociated himself for some reason. In a separate order, Justice Ashok Bhushan has expressed agreement with the order authored by Justice Sikri. The dissenting order of Justice Dr. D.Y. Chandrachud of this 5-Judge Constitution Bench assumes greater significance because it is he who authored the leading order of the 9-Judge Constitution Bench on right to privacy in this very case which had the concurrence of all the judges including Justices J Chelameswar, R F Nariman, Sanjay Kishan Kaul and S.A. Bobde. A harmonious construction of the verdict of Justice Chandrachud as part of 9-Judge Bench and his dissenting order as part of 5-Judge Bench shows a crystal clear picture of Justice Sikri’s order. It is evident that latter’s order is inconsistent with the order of 9-Judge Constitution Bench but its saving grace is that it outlawed the role of private entities in UID/Aadhaar project. The proposed Amendment Bill introduced by MEITY aims to undo even this aspect of Justice Sikri’s order. Given the fact that neither the Privacy Bill nor Data Protection Bill has been introduced prior to the introduction of the proposed Aaadhar Amendment Bill, it emerges that Justice Chandrachud’s trust in government expressed as part of the order authored by him in the right to privacy verdict was misplaced.

The inertia in introducing the Privacy Bill or Data Protection Bill and alacrity with which Aadhaar Amendment Bill has been introduced can be traced to the letter dated 20 November 2018 sent by transnational commercial interests to the Prime Minister, Finance Minister of Finance, Secretary of the Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology, Minister of Commerce and Industry and National Cyber Security Coordinator, National Security Council Secretariat and the Chairman, RBI on the subject of “Data Localization Requirements in India’s Draft Privacy Law and Reserve Bank of India Circular on Electronic Payments”. The letter was authored by the Global Services Coalition (GSC) that claims to represent “the services sector”.  The letter is signed by GSC members like Canadian Services Coalition, European Services Forum (ESF), Hong Kong Coalition of Services Industries, Japan Services Network, BusinessNZ, Taiwan Coalition of Services Industries, TheCityUK, Coalition of Services Industries and Australian Services Roundtable.

These transnational commercial interests serious have expressed “concerns in relation to the Indian Government’s apparent increasing use of mandatory data localization requirements, including the Reserve Bank of India’s April 6, 2018 Directive requiring that all data relating to electronic payment systems be stored locally in India, as well as the data localization requirements contained in the 2018 Personal Data Protection Bill (PDPB).” It asked the Prime Minister to ensure that “cross-border data flows need not be impeded, and that any exceptions should be limited to legitimate public policy objectives, be non-discriminatory in their operation, and comply with the General Agreement on Trade in Services (GATS) Articles XIV and XIV bis.” This is significant because attempts are underway in WTO talks to redefine even goods as services. Notably, the new Consumer Protection law provides for unique identity (UID) number for all consumer goods. The transnational business enterprises will have Indians believe that “Data localization requirements and other policies that restrict data flows are likely to constrain growth and innovation, and reduce the scope for leading Indian IT firms and their GSC counterparts to engage in business and investment contributing to promoting India’s competitiveness and growth.” These commercial interests do not reveal whether or not their own home countries have “Data localization requirements”.

In an explicit response to the Indian Supreme Court’s verdict on right to privacy, UID/Aadhaar and the proposed Privacy or Data Protection Law, in their letter these commercial interests observed, “as the proposed rules would apply to all personal data processed within India, they could in fact cover personal data collected from residents of foreign jurisdictions and sent to India for processing. As many organizations outside India rely on Indian-based companies to process foreign personal data, the application of Indian privacy rules to the processing of such data in India would impose an added layer of regulation, discouraging the use of Indian-based service providers.” This observation reveals that they are more concerned about the personal data collected from residents of foreign jurisdictions and sent to India for processing than the personal data of Indians. They fail to state that “data localization enhances data security”, it simply states that there is no evidence in this regard. Lack of evidence does not prove that data localization harms data security.

Their letter recommends “voluntary set of privacy principles that can guide data protection practices and procedures” in place of mandatory laws to govern data flows. It suggest that Government of India should address its data privacy and security concerns without data localization requirements unmindful of the costs and potential adverse impacts of unregulated and unimpeded cross-border data flow. These transnational commercial interests seem to have prevailed on the Prime Minister, Finance Minister, MEITY and Commerce & Industry Ministry to adopt “alternative regulatory approaches that can ensure data privacy and security while facilitating cross-border data flows” by expressing its trust in “voluntary set of privacy principles”. Notably, the contract agreements which UIDAI has signed in the name of President of India with foreign firms like Accenture, Safran Group and Ernst & Young has ensured free flow of all demographic and biometric data to such firms which they can keep for up to seven years. In electronic age, seven years means for eternity. It means they can milk the data of all present and future Indians for all times to come. Such one sided free flow of data has become a guaranteed source of revenue for these firms.    

Referring to UID/Aadhaar project, Justice Sikri observes: “Its use is spreading like wildfire, which is the result of robust and aggressive campaigning done by the Government, governmental agencies and other such bodies….The Government boasts of multiple benefits of Aadhaar.” It may be recalled that first Chairman of UIDAI used to refer to “robust and aggressive campaigning” as marketing saying success or failure of UID/Aadhaar depends on its marketing or campaigning. The judge in question recognizes that this project is a result of marketing. He carefully uses the word “boasts” with regard to government’s claims about its “multiple benefits” from UID/Aadhaar project.

The Forty-Second Report of Parliamentary Standing Committee on Finance submitted to the Lok Sabha and Rajya Sabha on 13 December, 2011 revealed that “Bharatiya - Automated Finger Print Identification System (AFSI), was launched in January 2009, being funded by” the government “for collection of biometric information of the people of the country.” But UIDAI chose not to use it because, “The quality, nature and manner of collection of biometric data by other biometric projects may not be of the nature that can be used for the purpose of the Aadhaar scheme and hence it may not be possible to use the fingerprints captured under the Bhartiya-AFSI project.” Government reached the conclusion that biometric technology of foreign firms is better than the existing Indian one from the point of uniqueness without any comparative study.

Justice Sikri‘s order refers to the Fifty Third Report of this very Standing Committee on Finance that presented to the Lok Sabha and Rajya Sabha on April 24, 2012 which summarised the objectives and financial implications of the UID scheme but it does not factor in the recommendations of this very Parliamentary Standing Committee in its Forty-Second Report which shows the existence of India’s own biometric technology.

The parliamentary report had apprehended that “Although the scheme claims that obtaining aadhaar number is voluntary, an apprehension is found to have developed in the minds of people that in future, services / benefits including food entitlements would be denied in case they do not have aadhaar number.” Its apprehension has been found to be correct.

Parliamentary Standing Committee’s Forty-Second Report relied on the Report of the London School of Economics (LSE)Report on UKs Identity Project inter-alia states that “…..identity systems may create a range of new and unforeseen problems……the risk of failure in the current proposals is therefore magnified to the point where the scheme should be regarded as a potential danger to the public interest and to the legal rights of individuals”. It records that “the United Kingdom shelved its Identity Cards Project for a number of reasons, which included:- (a) huge cost involved and possible cost overruns; (b) too complex; (c) untested, unreliable and unsafe technology; (d) possibility of risk to the safety and security of citizens; and (e) requirement of high standard security measures, which would result in escalating the estimated operational costs.” It states that “As these findings are very much relevant and applicable to the UID scheme, they should have been seriously considered.” It has not been done even after eight years of the scheme.

The claim of uniqueness of UID/Aadhaar which Justice Sikri has accepted is based on the unscientific assumption that there are parts of human body likes fingerprint, iris, voice etc that does not age, wither and decay with the passage of time. A report “Biometrics: The Difference Engine: Dubious security” published by The Economist in its 1 October 2010 issue observed “Biometric identification can even invite violence. A motorist in Germany had a finger chopped off by thieves seeking to steal his exotic car, which used a fingerprint reader instead of a conventional door lock.” Amidst ongoing starvation deaths of citizens, it is evident that UID/Aadhaar database project is an invitation of myriad forms of violence including civil death.

It is possible that such civilian and non-civilian applications are being bulldozed by some commercial entities in order to store and read biometric and DNA script of Indian population in the aftermath of the sequencing of Human Genome for epigenetics, medicine, big data, social control, inheritance, eugenics and genetic determinism. Under the tremendous influence and unprecedented onslaught from unregulated and ungovernable technology companies, so far Central Government and State Governments have failed to safeguard national security and citizens’ liberty which is part of right to life.

These aspects have been ignored in the proposed Aadhaar Amendment Bill. Given the fact that five review petitions have been filed seeking review of Justice Sikri’s order, the proposed Bill seems to be aimed at presenting a fait accompli. It is apparent that the passage of Human DNA Profiling Bill is part of the Plan B of the technology vendors and their collaborators. These developments assume significance in a context wherein the Supreme Court has chosen to limit its own power of judicial review under Article 32 by forgetting to read it jointly with Article 13 of the Indian Constitution. Unless Court undertakes joint reading of both the Articles providing for judicial review as an exception to separation of powers between different organs of the State, it will continue to pave the way for making Constitution of India subservient to contract agreements.     

Dr Gopal Krishna   

The author is convener Citizens Forum for Civil Liberties (CFCL). CFCL is research and advocacy forum focused on surveillance and DNA profiling technologies since 2010. He had appeared before the Parliamentary Standing on Finance that examined and trashed the Aadhaar Bill, 2010. He is also the editor of www.toxicswatch.org  

Why Justice Sikri’s order on Aadhaar project and Aadhaar Act is unconstitutional- Part XV

Written By BiharWatch on Wednesday, November 28, 2018 | 3:20 AM


While verdict of the 5-Judge Constitution Bench of Supreme Court on Union Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology (MEITY)’s Unique Identification (UID)/Aadhaar number database project being implemented by Unique Identification Authority of India (UIDAI), Aadhaar Act 2016 and indiscriminate metadata collection of Indian residents is 1448 pages long, the portion which is authored by Justice Arjan Kumar Singh is only 567 pages long. This part of the order has been written by him but it has been signed by 45th Chief Justice of India Dipak Misra and Justice Ajay Manikrao Khanwilkar. In a separate order, Justice Ashok Bhushan too has expressed agreement with it. The dissenting order of Justice Dr. D.Y. Chandrachud of this 5-Judge Constitution Bench assumes greater significance because it is he who authored the leading order of the 9-Judge Constitution Bench on right to privacy in this very case which had the concurrence of all the judges. A harmonious construction of the verdict of Justice Chandrachud as part of 9-Judge Bench and his dissenting order as part of 5-Judge Bench shows a crystal clear picture of Justice Sikri’s order. It is evident that latter’s order is inconsistent with the order of 9-Judge Constitution Bench. Justice Sikri’s order itself is inconsistent with his own observations. It has evaded even those facts, sequence of events and scientific evidence which are on record.         
 
Referring to UID/Aadhaar number database project, Justice Sikri observes: “Its use is spreading like wildfire, which is the result of robust and aggressive campaigning done by the Government, governmental agencies and other such bodies….The Government boasts of multiple benefits of Aadhaar.” It may be recalled that first Chairman of UIDAI used to refer to “robust and aggressive campaigning” as marketing saying success or failure of UID/Aadhaar depends on its marketing or campaigning. The judge in question recognizes that this project is a result of marketing. He carefully uses the word “boasts” with regard to government’s claims about its “multiple benefits”.

The opening statement of the Justice Sikri authored order reads: “It is better to be unique than the best. Because, being the best makes you the number one, but being unique makes you the only one. Unique makes you the only one’ is the central message of Aadhaar, which is on the altar facing constitutional challenge in these petitions.” This opening statement of the order is questionable from scientific point of view.  A report “Biometric Recognition: Challenges and Opportunities” of the National Research Council, USA published on 24 September 2010 concluded that the current state of biometrics is ‘inherently fallible’. That is also one of the findings of a five-year study. This study was jointly commissioned by the CIA, the US Department of Homeland Security and the Defence Advanced Research Projects Agency. Another study titled “Experimental Evidence of a Template Aging Effect in Iris Biometrics” supported by the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA), the Biometrics Task Force and the Technical Support Working Group through Army contract has demolished the widely accepted fact that iris biometric systems are not subject to a template aging effect. The study provides evidence of a template aging effect. The study infers, “We find that a template aging effect does exist. We also consider controlling for factors such as difference in pupil dilation between compared images and the presence of contact lenses, and how these affect template aging, and we use two different algorithms to test our data.” A “template aging effect” is defined as an increase in the false reject rate with increased elapsed time between the enrollment image and the verification image. This study demonstrates that assumptions which form the basis of Justice Sikri’s order are conclusively and unambiguously unscientific.
A report “Biometrics: The Difference Engine: Dubious security” published by The Economist in its 1 October 2010 issue observed “Biometric identification can even invite violence. A motorist in Germany had a finger chopped off by thieves seeking to steal his exotic car, which used a fingerprint reader instead of a conventional door lock.” Notwithstanding similar unforeseen consequences Justice Sikri’s faith in biometric remains unshaken. It seems that considerations other than truth have given birth to this faith. Is there a biological material in the human body that constitutes biometric data which is immortal, ageless and permanent? Besides working conditions, humidity, temperature and lighting conditions also impact the quality of biological material used for generating biometric data. The claim of uniqueness of UID/Aadhaar which Justice Sikri has accepted is based on the questionable assumption that there are parts of human body likes fingerprint, iris, voice etc that does not age, wither and decay with the passage of time.
The Forty-Second Report of Yashwant Sinha headed Parliamentary Standing Committee on Finance submitted to the Lok Sabha and Rajya Sabha on 13 December, 2011 revealed that “Bharatiya - Automated Finger Print Identification System (AFSI), was launched in January 2009, being funded by the Department of Information Technology, Ministry of Communications and Information Technology, for collection of biometric information of the people of the country.” But admittedly the same is not being used by UIDAI because according to the Government, “The quality, nature and manner of collection of biometric data by other biometric projects may not be of the nature that can be used for the purpose of the Aadhaar scheme and hence it may not be possible to use the fingerprints captured under the Bhartiya-AFSI project.”

Justice Sikri‘s order refers to the Fifty Third Report of this very Standing Committee on Finance that presented to the Lok Sabha and Rajya Sabha on April 24, 2012 which summarised the objectives and financial implications of the UID scheme but it does not factor in the recommendations of this very Parliamentary Standing Committee in its Forty-Second Report which shows the existence of Bharatiya - Automated Finger Print Identification System (AFSI) whose quality, nature and manner of collection of biometric data was apparently found to be not of such required nature which can impart uniqueness. Government reached the conclusion that biometric technology of foreign firms is better than the existing Indian one from the point of uniqueness without any comparative study.

This parliamentary report observed that “Continuance of various existing forms of identity and the requirement of furnishing “other documents” for proof of address, even after issue of aadhaar number, would render the claim made by the Ministry that aadhaar number is to be used as a general proof of identity and proof of address meaningless”. It underlined that “The full or near full coverage of marginalized sections for issuing aadhaar numbers could not be achieved mainly owing to two reasons viz. (i) the UIDAI doesnt have the statistical data relating to them; and (ii) estimated failure of biometrics is expected to be as high as 15% due to a large chunk of population being dependent on manual labour.” The report records that “The Ministry of Home Affairs are stated to have raised serious security concern over the efficacy of introducer system, involvement of private agencies in a large scale in the scheme which may become a threat to national security; uncertainties in the UIDAI’s revenue model.”

The parliamentary report has apprehended that “Although the scheme claims that obtaining aadhaar number is voluntary, an apprehension is found to have developed in the minds of people that in future, services / benefits including food entitlements would be denied in case they do not have aadhaar number.” Its apprehension has been found to be correct.

Parliamentary Standing Committee’s Forty-Second Report relied on the Report of the London School of Economics (LSE)Report on UKs Identity Project inter-alia states that “…..identity systems may create a range of new and unforeseen problems……the risk of failure in the current proposals is therefore magnified to the point where the scheme should be regarded as a potential danger to the public interest and to the legal rights of individuals”. It records that “the United Kingdom shelved its Identity Cards Project for a number of reasons, which included:- (a) huge cost involved and possible cost overruns; (b) too complex; (c) untested, unreliable and unsafe technology; (d) possibility of risk to the safety and security of citizens; and (e) requirement of high standard security measures, which would result in escalating the estimated operational costs.” It states that “As these findings are very much relevant and applicable to the UID scheme, they should have been seriously considered.”

These aspects of the report have been ignored by Justice Sikri. Although he refers to the introduction of National Identification Authority of India Bill, 2010’in the Rajya Sabha on December 3, 2010, he chose to gloss over the fact that this Bill was referred to Parliamentary Standing Committee on Finance on 10 December 2010 and the findings of this on this Bill and the UID/Aadhaar project in its Forty-Second Report. This Committee comprised of 21 members from the Lok Sabha and 10 members from the Rajya Sabha. The Bill of 2010 was not a Money Bill. It was never passed by the Rajya Sabha. As a consequence of the recommendations contained in this report this Bill was withdrawn from the Rajya Sabha on 3 March, 2016 and a new Bill, Aadhaar (Targeted Delivery of Financial and Other Subsidies, Benefits and Services) Bill, 2016 was introduced on that very day as a Money Bill to outwit the Rajya Sabha and to make the recommendations of Lok Sabha’s Parliamentary Standing Committee on Finance irrelevant. Thus, what could not been done directly through Rajya Sabha and Lok Sabha’s Parliamentary Committee was done through Lok Sabha. It conclusively established itself as a questionable colourable legislation. By choosing not to engage with these facts on record, Justice Sikri has avoided the question of enactment of Aadhaar (Targeted Delivery of Financial and Other Subsidies, Benefits and Services) Act, 2016 as a colourable legislation.      

Tracing the origin of the UID/Aadhaar project, Justice Sikri refers to the Processes Committee that was set up on July 3, 2006 to suggest the process for updation, modification, addition and deletion of data and fields from the core database to be created under the Unique Identification (UID) for BPL Families project. The Planning Commission’s Processes Committee, on November 26, 2006, prepared a paper known as “Strategic Vision Unique Identification of Residents”. The fact is that it is one of the earliest documents which refers to UID. It is a 14-page long document titled ‘Strategic Vision: Unique Identification of Residents’ which was admittedly prepared by Wipro Ltd and submitted to the Processes Committee of the Planning Commission. The Processes Committee did not prepare it. This document envisaged the close linkage that the UIDAI would have with the electoral database. On December 4, 2006, the Prime Minister Manmohan Singh had constituted an Empowered Group of Ministers (E-GoM) comprising of A Raja, the then Minister of Communications & Information Technology, the minister-in-charge responsible for UID and related others on the basis of this strategic vision document. Therefore, factual misrepresentation with regard to its origin assumes great significance. The use of electoral database mentioned in Wipro Ltd’s document remains on the agenda given the fact that aggressive attempts have been made to link Voter ID with UID/Aadhaar. Justice Sikri’s order does not refer to Wipro Ltd which prepared the vision document although this vision document was submitted by the government in the course of the judicial proceedings. Till then this vision document was not in public domain. Its vision statement reads: “Creating a unique identification system of all residents in the country for efficient, transparent, reliable and effective delivery of various welfare and private services to the common person.” The cover page of the vision document mentions the names of institutions and the private firm namely, National Institute for Smart Government, Department of Information Technology and Wipro Consulting and states that Wipro Ltd is the consultant for the design phase and program management phase of the pilot UIDAI project, the ‘Strategic Vision on the UIDAI Project’. This is the first document of November 2006 which refers to UIDAI for the first time. UIDAI took birth in January 2009.

What is stated in the Wipro‘s vision document with regard to electoral database finds echo in Justice SIkri’s order wherein it is stated that “A core group was set up to advice and further the work related to UIDAI….Meetings of the core group took place from time to time. The core group, inter alia, decided that it was better to start with the electoral roll database of 2009
for undertaking the UIDAI project.” It further states “This and other steps taken in this direction culminated in issuance of Notification dated July 02, 2009 whereby Mr. Nandan Nilekani was appointed as the Chairman of UIDAI for an initial tenure of five years in the rank and status of a Cabinet Minister. He assumed charge on July 24, 2009. Thereafter, the Prime Minister’s Council of UIDAI was constituted on July 30, 2009 which held its first meeting on August 12, 2009 where the Chairman of UIDAI made detailed representation on the broad strategy and approach of the proposed UID project.” Interestingly, only within 20 days of joining UIDAI after resigning as CEO, Infosys Ltd, he became competent enough to give “detailed representation on the broad strategy and approach of the proposed UID project.”  His appointment letter was addressed him as CEO, Infosys Ltd. Later, Nilekani headed Technology Advisory Group (TAGUP) recommended setting up of National Information Utilities (NIU) to deal with complex Information Technology (IT) systems and projects. This TAGUP report refers to UIDAI Strategy Overview document prepared by WIPRO technologies Pvt and published by UIDAI.

Notably, Infosys Leadership Institute (ILI) had set up Jawaharlal Nehru Leadership Institute (JNLI) in 2008 for training Indian Youth Congress (IYC) and National Students' Union of India (NSUI) with GK Jayaram as its chief mentor. Jayaram's Bangalore based Institute of Leadership and Institutional Development (ILID) was a consultant to Rajiv Gandhi Foundation and Rajiv Gandhi Institute of Contemporary Studies. Subsequently, a web-based Pehchaan (identity) platform was set up "as a mechanism to identify and promote elected office-bearers (EOBs) at every level."  The text of a resolution in this regard reads, "Every EOB is allotted a unique ID and password and given the opportunity to share their work and connect with the organization at various levels." Jayaram, the chief mentor for training IYC and NSUI was formerly associated with the US Navy Post-Graduate School and worked in US firms like AT&T. It may be noted that in 2006, the Electronic Frontier Foundation lodged a class action lawsuit alleging that AT&T had allowed agents of the National Security Agency (NSA) to monitor phone and Internet communications of AT&T customers without warrants in violation of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act of 1978 and the First and Fourth Amendments of the US Constitution. It is apparent that those who pushed the idea of unique identity before the ruling political leadership have been involved with foreign defence and private firms whose past merited deeper scrutiny. Justice Sikri has not been able to see through the incestuous relationship between domestic and foreign private firms with UIDAI because he has refrained from naming the firm which conceptualized its strategic vision.    

Notably, Comptroller and Auditor General has reported in August 2016 that Wipro, India’s third largest software exporter has been given “undue favours” of Rs 4.92 crores by the competent authority in UIDAI. Wipro was given a contract by UIDAI in May 2011 for Rs 134 crore for installing security systems etc in the data centres of UIDAI in Bengaluru and Delhi/NCR region. Besides undue favour garnered by Wipro, it is apparent that it created business for itself through its preparation of the Strategic Vision  on the UIDAI Project, a classic case of manifest conflict of interest.   

Given the fact that Prime Minister’s Council of UIDAI was directly overseeing the execution of the UID/Aadhaar project, it is pertinent to note what the then Prime Minister said. In such a backdrop and in the context of scams galore, he observed, "We live in a world of uncertainty and ex-post whether it is the Comptroller and Auditor General, whether it is a Parliamentary committee then they analyse post facto. They have a lot more facts which were not available to those who took the decision." Now that it has been more than nine years of the existence of a controversial public institution like UIDAI, the Justice Sikri should have asked the "Comptroller and Auditor General" of India to "analyse post facto" the work of UIDAI since January 2009 and the involvement of its key office bearers in awarding contracts to private firms, some of which have already come under CAG’s scrutiny instead of deliberately omitting the role of private firms like Wipro in his order. 
Justice Sikri authored order of Supreme Court’s Constitution Bench has missed the opportunity to save present and future Indians from the dictatorship of faceless donors created through Finance Act 2017 and Finance Act 2018 which has compromised national security and almost all the public institutions. He has made citizens and natural persons residing in India naked and transparent in a legal system in which artificial persons, the opaqueness of body corporates has been legalized. The order commits a Himalayan blunder by ruling that right to have natural and human rights of citizens can be made conditional by their servant, the government at the behest of the beneficial owners of ungovernable technology companies who have turned ruling political parties into puppets through their limitless and anonymous transnational donations. 
In the face of assault on citizens’ rights and the emergence of a regime that is making legislatures and judiciary subservient to automatic identification, big data mining and artificial intelligence companies, the order of Justice Sikri has undermined the Constitution and the sovereignty of the citizens who framed it. If the order is not reviewed soon by a larger Constitution Bench, India's social policies will be guided by biometric and genetic determinism and eugenic thinking of their beneficial owners of unaccountable and admittedly undemocratic institutions.

Dr Gopal Krishna
The author is convener of Citizens Forum for Civil Liberties (CFCL) which has been campaigning for freedom from UID/Aadhaar and DNA profiling since 2010. He had appeared before the Parliamentary Standing Committee on Finance that questioned and trashed the biometric identification of Indians through UID/Aadhaar. He is also the editor of www.toxicswatch.org   

Supreme Court's verdict of 4 Judges on UID/Aadhaar Act is deeply unscientific and anti-poor-Part XIV

Written By BiharWatch on Wednesday, September 26, 2018 | 9:08 AM


Minority verdict echoes the statement of concern issued by 17 eminent citizens and the recommendations of the Parliamentary Standing Committee on Finance

26 Sept. 2018, New Delhi: Verdict of Supreme Court of 4 Judges of the 5-Judge Constitution Bench on biometric data based 12 digit Unique Identification (UID) number branded as Aadhaar is manifestly unscientific and anti-poor. The verdict was delivered today. It has taken citizens to pre-Magna Carta days (1215 AD) or even earlier, to the days prior to the declaration of Cyrus, the Persian King (539 BC) that willed freedom for slaves.

The Court failed to rigorously examine the ramifications of biometric information based identification of residents of India in the light of global experiences. UK, China, Australia, US and France have scrapped similar initiatives. US Supreme Court, Philippines’ Supreme Court and European Court of Human Rights have ruled against the indiscriminate biometric profiling of citizens without warrant.

UID/Aadhaar is akin to to Sanjay Gandhi's forced family planning programs. Even Sanjay Gandhi faced the adverse consequences of forcing planning on human body. Aadhaar-linked programs make Indian citizens subjects of Big Data companies.

The opening statement of the verdict authored by by Justices A.K.Sikri and concurred by, Dipak Mishra, and A.M. Khanwilkar reads: “It is better to be unique than the best. Because, being the best makes you the number one, but being unique makes you the only one. 2) Unique makes you the only one’ is the central message of Aadhaar, which is on the altar facing constitutional challenge in these petitions.”

Before going through the 1448 page long verdict, Citizens Forum for Civil Liberties (CFCL) submits as a initial reaction that this opening statement in the order is questionable from scientific point of view.  A report “Biometric Recognition: Challenges and Opportunities” of the National Research Council, USA published on 24 September 2010 concluded that the current state of biometrics is ‘inherently fallible’. That is also one of the findings of a five-year study. This study was jointly commissioned by the CIA, the US Department of Homeland Security and the Defence Advanced Research Projects Agency.

Another study titled “Experimental Evidence of a Template Aging Effect in Iris Biometrics” supported by the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA), the Biometrics Task Force and the Technical Support Working Group through Army contract has demolished the widely accepted fact that iris biometric systems are not subject to a template aging effect. The study provides evidence of a template aging effect. A “template aging effect” is defined as an increase in the false reject rate with increased elapsed time between the enrollment image and the verification image. The study infers, “We find that a template aging effect does exist. We also consider controlling for factors such as difference in pupil dilation between compared images and the presence of contact lenses, and how these affect template aging, and we use two different algorithms to test our data.”

A report “Biometrics: The Difference Engine: Dubious security” published by The Economist in its 1 October 2010 issue observed “Biometric identification can even invite violence. A motorist in Germany had a finger chopped off by thieves seeking to steal his exotic car, which used a fingerprint reader instead of a conventional door lock.” Notwithstanding similar unforeseen consequences Prime Minister’s faith in biometric remains unshaken. It seems that considerations other than truth have given birth to this faith. Is there a biological material in the human body that constitutes biometric data which is immortal, ageless and permanent? Besides working conditions, humidity, temperature and lighting conditions also impact the quality of biological material used for generating biometric data. UID/Aadhaar is based on the unscientific and questionable assumption that there are parts of human body likes fingerprint, iris, voice etc” that does not age, wither and decay with the passage of time.

Stalwarts like Justice V. R. Krishna Iyer, a people’s judge of the Supreme Court, S R Sankaran, a people's bureaucrat and K. G. Kannibaran, author of The Wages of Impunity had opposed biometric UID/Aadhaar and Unique Identification Authority of India (UIDAI). Their views were endorsed by the Parliamentary Standing Committee on Finance. The dissenting order of Justice Chandrachud echoes their views. The  Bhartiya Janata Party led Government like the previous Congress Party led Government has been bulldozing the Unique Identification (UID) /Aadhaar number database project down the throat of citizens. 
Before their death Justice Iyer, Kannabiran and Sankaran issued a Statement of Concern against the biometric UID/aadhaar number in September 2010 along with fourteen other eminent citizens. The Statement of Concern reads: “The project that proposes to give every resident a `unique identity number’ is a matter of great concern for those working on issues of food security, NREGA, migration, technology, decentralisation, constitutionalism, civil liberties and human rights....This project is intended to collect demographic data about all residents in the country." It further reads: "The involvement of firms such as Ernst & Young and Accenture raise further questions about who will have access to the data, and what that means to the people of India."

The statement also observed the following: "Constitutionality of this project, including in the matter of privacy, the relationship between the state and the people, security and other fundamental rights."

In the light of the tragic cases of civil death and actual deaths caused by UID/Aadhaar project since September 2010, there is a compelling logic for abandoning this project like other civilized countries. This project treats citizens worse than prisoners. It is aimed at enslaving present and future generations of Indians including future PMs, CMs, Judges and soldiers by the beneficial owners of ungovernable technology companies who have turned political parties into puppets through their limitless anonymous donations. 

In the face of assault on citizens’ rights and the emergence of a regime that is making legislatures and judiciary subservient to automatic identification, big data mining and artificial intelligence companies, the majority verdict on UID/Aadhaar project and Aadhaar Act has undermined the sovereignty of the country.

Majority verdict of the Supreme Court has missed the opportunity to save Indians from the dictator ship of anonymous donors who have compromised national security and almost all the public institutions.

If it is not reviewed soon India's social policies will be guided by biometric and genetic determinism and eugenic thinking or not. It demonstrates that right to have natural and human rights of citizens can be made conditional by their servant, the government. 

Citizens Forum for Civil Liberties (CFCL) used this Statement of Concern to launch its campaign for freedom from UID/Aadhaar in 2010. Since it has been demanding stoppage of biometric and demographic data collection for the UID/Aadhaar project. CFCL is involved in the research and advocacy against surveillance technologies like UID/Adhaar and DNA profiling. It had appeared before the  Parliamentary Standing Committee on Finance that questioned and trashed the biometric identification of Indians for UID/Aadhaar.

For Details: Gopal Krishna, Convener, Citizens Forum for Civil Liberties (CFCL), Mb: 9818089660, E-mail:krishnaruhani@gmail.com 


Why UID/Aadhaar is not required for rations?- Part XIII

Written By BiharWatch on Tuesday, September 11, 2018 | 3:24 AM

It has come to light that ration card shops are demanding UID/Aadhaar number from ration card holders, therefore, there is a need to inform the concerned shop owners and the concerned state department about the notifications and letter of Union Ministry of Consumer Affairs, Food and Public Distribution prohibiting demand for UID/Aadhaar from non-Aadhaar holders.  


As per the Consumer Guide of Ministry of Consumer Affairs, Food and Public Distribution, “Aadhaar is not a compulsory scheme at all, it is a voluntary based scheme and anyone who is interested can enroll for Aadhaar.”

As per Section 1 (3) of the February 8, 2017 notification of the ministry, in cases where an individual does not have an Aadhaar, the notification states that the following documents be produced for providing food grains:
1.      Ration Card issued by the State Government Department;
2.      Copy of Aadhaar enrollment ID slip or copy or request made for Aadhaar enrollment; and
3.     Any of the eight documents specified in the notification like PAN card, Voter ID etc.

According to the Letter of Pramod Kumar, Joint Secretary, Department of Food &Public Distribution, Union Ministry of Consumer Affairs, Food & Public Distribution sent to Principal Secretary/ Secretary, Food and Civil Supplies Department of all States on the subject of Aadhaar Seeding with Ration Cards on24 October, 2017, “No person or household shall be deleted from the list of eligible households and denied subsidised food grains or cash transfer of Food subsidy under NFSA only on the ground of not possessing Aadhaar.” The letter was copied to CEO of UIDAI.

The amendments to the relevant provisions of the National Food Security Act 2013 makes it clear that those desirous of availing subsidy may get themselves enrolled for UID/Aadhaar till 30 September 2018. It is not mandatory. 

The notifications, relevant and the press release given below for ready reference:
 1.      Amendment (Extension till 30 September 2018) - Notification under Section 7 of Aadhaar Act (Issue Date 02/07/2018. Valid up to 02/07/2020) [Amendment dated 29th June, 2018 to Notification of Feb 8, 2017]
2.      Amendment (Extension till 30June2018) - Notification under Section 7 of Aadhaar Act (Issue Date  02/04/2018. Valid up to 31/03/2021) [Amendment dated 2nd April, 2018 to Notification of Feb 8, 2017]
3.      Amendment (Extension till 31March2018) - Notification under Section 7 of Aadhaar Act (Issue Date 05/01/2018. Valid up to05/01/2019) [Amendment dated 26th December, 2017 to Notification of Feb 8, 2017]
4.      Amendment (Extension till 31Dec2017) - Notification under Section 7 of Aadhaar Act regarding requirement of Aadhaar Number/ Aadhaar authentication for subsidies under PDS. (Issue Date 28/09/2017       Valid up to 31/12/2020) [Amendment dated 28th September, 2017, 2017 to Notification of Feb 8, 2017]
5.      Amendment - Notification under Section 7 of Aadhaar Act regarding requirement of Aadhaar Number/ Aadhaar authentication for subsidies under PDS. (Issue Date 06/07/2017 Valid up to 01/07/2019) [Amendment dated 29 June, 2017 to Notification of Feb 8, 2017]

6.      Notification under Section 7 of Aadhaar Act regarding requirement of Aadhaar Number/ Aadhaar authentication for subsidies under PDS (Issue Date 10/07/2017 Valid up to 10/07/2020) [Amendment dated 8 February, 2017]
7.      Press release note for notification under Aadhaar Act (Issue Date10/07/2017 Valid up to 10/07/2020) Refer to last paragraph of the Press release-July 10, 2017

In a related development, on 31st July, 2018, Union Minister of State for Consumer Affairs, Food & Public Distribution, C. R. Chaudhary informed Lok Sabha that “Department has issued clear instructions to all States/UTs that no beneficiary/household shall be deleted from the list of eligible beneficiaries/households only on the ground of not possessing Aadhaar, and shall also not be denied subsidized foodgrains or cash transfer of food subsidy under NFSA due to non-availability of Aadhaar or failure of biometric authentication due to network/connectivity/ linking issues/ poor biometric of the beneficiary or other technical reasons.” The fact remains UID/Aadhaar cannot be linked to entitlements of social benefits and services because the entitlements are for “citizens” of India, not residents of India. UID/ Aadhaar number claims to be proof of residentship in India.

In a RTI reply on the application of Dr Anupam Saraph dated January 29, 2018 provided by Unique Identification Authority of India (UIDAI) of Union Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology (MEITY), it has been admitted that UIDAI does not certify the identity, address, date of birth, resident status or existence of any individual or any Aadhaar number. Given the fact that certification is essential to identify the  person  and  agency responsible for the issue of the identification document and to establish their legal liability for the identification with the person, even the claim of UID/Aadhaar number being proof of residentship has been found to be bogus, akin to misleading advertisements by vendors of all shades. 

In such a backdrop, UID/Aadhaar cannot be relied upon by central and state departments of consumer affairs, food and public distribution and other departments. It is high time all the central and state ministries and agencies updated their notifications in the light of the revelations made in these RTI replies and abandon UID/Aadhaar number database project.   

 Dr Gopal Krishna

The author had appeared before the Parliamentary Standing Committee on Finance that examined the Aadhaar Bill and the Parliamentary Standing Committee on Food, Consumer Affairs and Public Distribution that examined the Consumer Protection Bill. He is editor of www.toxicswatch.org and is the convener of Citizens Forum for Civil Liberties which has been working on UID/Aadhaar issue since 2010.

 
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