After submitting 3.57 crore signatures against Aadhaar/UID to the Prime Minister, now Socialist Unity Centre of India (SUCI)-Communist party’s journal denounces the Unique Identity (UID) or Aadhaar scheme as ‘subversion of democracy’ in its four page analysis. It had taken note of the severe indictment of the Unique Identification Authority of India (UIDAI) by the Parliamentary Standing Committee on Finance in its report placed before Parliament on December 13, 2011. According to the report, the UID/Aadhaar project has been conceptualized “with no clarity of purpose” and “directionless” in its implementation, leading to “a lot of confusion”. The Standing Committee also observed that while framing of relevant law is under way, the continuance of the project is “unethical and violation of Parliament’s prerogatives”. The collection of biometric and personal data and issuing of UID numbers do not have any statutory sanction until the Bill is passed by Parliament. The journal endorses Parliamentary Standing Committee’s report saying, “There is every merit in this observation.”
The latest April 2013 issue of Proletarian Era, the central organ of the SUCI (Communist) raises pertinent questions debunking the need for UID/Aadhaar.
The party holds that “In the absence of a Constitutional provision or legal framework, all the actions of the UIDAI are technically unconstitutional and illegal.”
It observes “Nandan Nilekani, the current Infosys chief nominated by the government to head the project, has been given sweeping powers.”
It adds that if the National Identification Authority of India Bill, 2010 “is not passed for any reason and if Parliament is of the view that the authority should not function, the exercise would have to be discontinued. Yet, the Congress-led UPA II government which is now virtually reduced to a minority following withdrawal of support by two of its main constituents has gone ahead with rolling out the project which is envisaged to cost as high as Rs 1.50 lakh crores roughly. This smacks of subversion of democracy. That is why there is doubt what prompted
the government to be in such a pressing hurry to launch such a crucial as well as highly debatable scheme bypassing Parliament.”
The party’s analysis infers that “the claim that introduction of Aadhaar would cleanse the system from middleman intervention is not only hollow but deceptive as well.”
It apprehends that “The possibility that some such agencies (data collecting entities) are aligned to communal and fundamentalist groups and thus having ulterior motive in collecting non-mandatory information, cannot be ruled out.”
It observes, “several countries including the US, the UK, Australia, China, Canada and Germany have tried such projects but aborted them midway as impractical. The US –arguably the most surveillance prone society in the world – passed a Federal law requiring the States to allow the Federal Department of Homeland Security to access State databases such as drivers’ licences and motor vehicle registration but failed to implement the same.”
The journal dwells on individual’s right to privacy and the biometric-based national ID system as unconstitutional on grounds of invasion of privacy. It recollects the decision by the European Court of Human Rights on the violation of the right to privacy and citizens’ rights. The unanimous decision of judges was 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 offences, failed to strike a fair balance between competing public and private interests.
In a pithy observation that merits the attention of all the political parties and the peoples movements the journal observes, “In our country where abuse of power for ulterior motive, spying on political opponents, subversion of basic human rights, harassing activists of democratic mass movements, crushing democratic mass movements by resorting to various coercive methods including persecution of their core leaders and organizers in a planned way and such other undemocratic acts are reported everyday in swelling numbers, such empowerment to any nodal agency is bound to be viewed as arbitrary, if not draconian. It is no more a secret that there was involvement of the entire government machinery in mass carnage that happened in Delhi in 1984 and Gujarat in 2002. Tacit approval of the government administration towards ‘encounter killings’, ‘custodial deaths’, abuse of special power by police-military in eliminating political opponents is also a reality. While the bourgeois government does have various methods to track the movements of political opponents, with Aadhaar in place and most of the transactions starting from booking of rail tickets, withdrawal of cash from ATMs to bank credit of proposed food subsidy amount linked to it, such surveillance system might be eased if run based on Aadhaar.”
Recalling past, it says, “History would bear out such systems were indeed misused by despotic and fascist forces earlier. German rulers used IBM Hollerith D-11 card sorting machine in the census of the country in 1933 and since there was a provision for identifying race and ethnicity, the Nazi rulers with the help of IBM could conveniently count and identify the Jews whom they savagely butchered out of racial hatred. One, therefore, cannot rule out the possibility of this power being misused by persons in power to access private details such as religious, racial, caste or even political profiling from Aadhaar data base to serve undemocratic, illegal and unethical purposes for use in ways that may pose a risk to the life or security of the person concerned. It is
noteworthy that when quizzed on how they would prevent Aadhaar data base from falling in wrong hands or enabling unscrupulous politicians to misuse for their benefit and against the interest of the Indian people, Nandan Nilakeni who eulogizes Aadhaar number as “ubiquitous” and even advised people to “tattoo it somewhere,” lest they should forget it, was caught napping.”
Earlier, on March 14, 2012, this party had submitted a memorandum with eight demands, including a demand for scrapping of Aadhaar/UID to the Prime Minister with 3.57 crore signatures.
Citizens Forum for Civil Liberties (CFCL) has been campaigning against unregulated biometric, surveillance and identification technology companies since 2010 and had appeared before the Parliamentary Standing Committee, Finance in this regard. CFCL has consistently underlined that the silence of the States which are quite vocal about threats to federal structure from Union Home Ministry‘s National Counter Terrorism Centre (NCTC) and National Intelligence Grid (NATGRID) that integrates 21 sets of databases in the matter of the creation of UID’s Centralized Identities Data Register (CIDR) disregarding the fact that Planning Commission’s CIDR and Home Ministry’s National Population Register (NPR) is inexplicable.
For Details: Gopal Krishna, Citizens Forum for Civil Liberties (CFCL), Mb:9818089660,