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Biometric NPR makes Indians worse than prisoners, violates Citizenship Act, Census Act and constitutional rights

Written By Unknown on Wednesday, June 18, 2014 | 5:03 AM


Shri Rajnath Singh
Union Minister for Home Affairs
Government of India
New Delhi

Subject-Biometric NPR makes Indians worse than prisoners, violates Citizenship Act, Census Act and constitutional rights   


This is with reference to the release of Press Information Bureau (PIB) titled “Union Home Minister Shri Rajnath Singh Reviewed the Scheme of National Population Register (NPR)” dated June 18, 2014, the release of the PIB dated May 31, 2014 issued by Prime Minister's Office (PMO) abolishing Group of Ministers (GoM) regarding Issue of Resident Identity Cards to all usual residents of the country of age 18 years and above under the scheme of National Population Register (NPR) and Cabinet Committee on Unique Identification Authority of India related issues that deal with biometric aadhaar number and Hon'ble Supreme Court's orders dated September 23, 2013 in the Writ Petition (Civil) No(s). Writ Petition (Civil)    494 of 2012 W.P(C) NO. 829 of 2013, W.P (C) NO. 932 of 2013, T.C.(C) NO. 152 of 2013, T.C. (C) NO. 151 of 2013, W.P (C) NO. 833 of 2013 and CONMT.PET. (C) NO.144/2014 IN W.P.(C) NO.494/2012 in the matter of biometric aadhaar/UID number linked to MHA’s NPR which also generates aadhaar number. The Hon’ble Court has listed the matter for hearing in the month of July, 2014 as per the order of April 28, 2014.
I submit that Hon’ble Court’s order in the “Petition(s) for Special Leave to Appeal (Crl) No(s).2524/2014 (UIDAI versus CBI) case merits your attention. It reads: “In the meanwhile, the present petitioner is restrained from transferring any biometric information of any person who has been allotted the Aadhaar number to any other agency without his consent in writing. More so, no person shall be deprived of any service for want of Aadhaar number in case he/she is otherwise eligible/entitled. All the authorities are directed to modify their forms/circulars/likes so as to not compulsorily require the Aadhaar number in order to meet the requirement of the interim order passed by this Court forthwith” on March 24, 2014 reiterating its order of September 23, 2013.
I submit that it was reported on October 6, 2011 that Gujarat Chief Minister, Shri Narendra Modi wrote to the Prime Minister questioning the need for National Population Register (NPR) by Registrar General of India & Census Commissioner, Union Ministry of Home Affairs. Gujarat stopped collection of biometric data for creation of the NPR.

In his letter to the Prime Minister, Shri Modi wrote, “there is no mention of capturing biometrics in the Citizenship Act or Citizenship Rules 2009”. He added, “In the absence of any provision in the Citizenship Act, 1955, or rules for capturing biometrics, it is difficult to appreciate how the capture of biometrics is a statutory requirement. Photography and biometrics is only mentioned in the Manual of Instructions for filling up the NPR household schedule and even in that there is no mention of capturing the Iris”. (Reference: http://archive.indianexpress.com/news/in-reply-to-pc-letter-modi-writes-to-pm-why-biometrics-for-npr-/856315/)

I submit that after Government of Gujarat stopped collection of biometric data, the then Union Minister of Home Affairs, Shri P Chidambaram sent a letter to Shri Modi in August 2011 pointed out that creation of the NPR was a “statutory requirement” under the Citizenship Act, 1955, and “once initialized, has to be necessarily completed”. The Union Minister of Home Affairs had also requested the CM to instruct state government officers to cooperate in creation of the NPR.
I submit that UIDAI and related projects like NPR treats every Indian as a subject of surveillance unlike UK which abandoned a similar project (that used to be cited by Wipro Ltd in promotion of UID) because it is "untested, unreliable and unsafe technology” and the” possible risk to the safety and security of citizens.” It was recorded by Parliamentary Standing Committee (PSC) on Finance that submitted a report to both the Houses of Parliament on December 13, 2011 trashing the biometric identification project and the post facto legislation to legalize UIDAI and its acts of omission and commission since January 28, 2009 till the passage of The National Identification Authority of India Bill, 2010. Notably, UK Home Secretary explained that they were abandoning the project because it would otherwise be 'intrusive bullying' by the state, and that the government intended to be the 'servant' of the people, and not their 'master'.
I submit that the Parliamentary Standing Committee on Subordinate Legislation is also seized with the compliant on “Subordinate Legislation for Biometric Identity Card NRIC and Aadhhar/UID is illegal & illegitimate and Constitutional, Legal, Historical & Technological Reasons Against UID/Aadhaar Scheme on 18.3.2013."
I submit that the entire issue is quite grave because the genocidal idea of biometric identification is linked with the holocaust witnessed in Germany. Such identification exercises have rightly been abandoned in UK, Australia, China, USA and France. It is noteworthy that Shri Nandan Nilekani as Chairman, UIDAI has admitted, "To answer the question about what is the biggest risk" of centralized database of biometric identification, he said "in some sense, you run the risk of creating a single point of failure also" in his talk at the World Bank in Washington on April 24, 2013.
I submit that five years of advertising and marketing by UIDAI with help of a negative coalition of bankers, biometric technology companies and a section of mainstream media that holds rights of citizens in contempt created an illusion among the uninformed citizenry that what pre-existing 15 identity proofs could not do, this illegitimate and illegal biometric identifier will be able to do.  The new government has to demonstrate that it is not part of the coalition of Shri Nilekani which wanted to collect biometric data any national cost.
I submit that the advocates and supporters of biometric identification who are part of the negative coalition that unconditionally and blindly supports linking of fish baits for trapping the poor in the biometric database are game for turning the all the Indians into guniea pigs for an experiment that has resulted in incineration of human beings in the past.  The fact of this experimentation is revealed from what Shri Nilekani said in his speech at the Centre for Global Development, Washington. He said, “Our view was that there was bound to be opposition. That is a given…we said in any case there is going to be a coalition of opponents. So is there a way to create a positive coalition of people who have a stake in its success? So, one of the big things here is that there is a huge coalition of, you know, organisations, governments, banks, companies, others who have a stake now in its future. So, create a positive coalition that has the power to overpower or deal with anyone who opposes it.”
I submit that a positive coalition of progressive political parties, peoples’ movements and informed citizens will stand exposed as the collaborators of undemocratic biometric technology companies, bankers and NGOs will get a befitting reply during the upcoming elections. These bankers, companies and their collaborators lost in UK, Australia, China, France and USA, the new government should ensure that lose in India as well.
I submit that Shri Nilekani’s method of reasoning is a case study, he says, "We came to the conclusion that if we take sufficient data, biometric data of an individual, then that person's biometric will be unique across a billion people. Now we have to find that out. We haven't done it yet. So we'll discover it as we go along" on April 23, 2013. At his lecture at World Bank on April 24, 2013, he said, “nobody has done this before, so we are going to find out soon whether it will work or not”. No one can tell as to what is his premise and what is the inference or how is inference is deduced from the premise he has articulated.
I submit that tricked by the marketing blitzkrieg, some political parties are wary of taking a position that would appear to be against pro-poor schemes not realizing that come what may the real beneficiary of this biometric identification are the Big Data companies.
I submit that Shri Nilekani admitted at his lecture the Centre for Global Development in Washington in April 2013 that UIDAI has "created huge opportunity for fingerprint scanners, iris readers". The purchase of these machines with money is also a leakage that merits probe. Leakage can be plugged by rigorous implementation of Right to Information Act and decentralization of decision making instead of adopting a centralization approach and technological quick fixes.
I submit that the entire Indian and international media was taken for a ride regarding a so called turf war between the Ministry of Home Affairs and UIDAI which media was made to understand that got resolved by diving the Indian population in two parts of 61 crore and 60 crore for coverage under National Population Register (NPR) which also generates Aadhaar number and UIDAI. The fact is the terms of reference of the UIDAI mandated it "take necessary steps to ensure collation of National Population Register (NPR) with UID (as per approved strategy)", to "identify new partner/user agencies", to "issue necessary instructions to agencies that undertake creation of databases… (to) enable collation and correlation with UID and its partner databases" and UIDAI “shall own and operate the database". The executive notification dated January 28, 2009 that set up UIDAI mentions this. The entire exercise seems to have been stage managed.
I submit that on June 29, 2013, Shri Nilekani reportedly revealed that they were in preliminary discussions with embassies to use the UID number to “simplify visa application procedures”. Isn’t passport a sovereign document? It is noteworthy that Shri Nilekani referred to Aadhaar as akin to internal passport. For passport, there is Passport Act, under what Act is this ‘internal passport’ being promoted?
I submit that Hon'ble Supreme Court's order must be looked at in the light of what of Government of India’s approach paper on privacy states. It says, “Data privacy and the need to protect personal information is almost never a concern when data is stored in a decentralised manner. Data that is maintained in silos is largely useless outside that silo and consequently has a low likelihood of causing any damage.  However, all this is likely to change with the implementation of the UID Project. One of the inevitable consequences of the UID Project will be that the UID Number will unify multiple databases. As more and more agencies of the government sign on to the UID Project, the UID Number will become the common thread that links all those databases together. Over time, private enterprise could also adopt the UID Number as an identifier for the purposes of the delivery of their services or even for enrolment as a customer. Once this happens, the separation of data that currently exists between multiple databases will vanish.”
I submit that the Citizenship Act, 1955 is “an Act to provide for the acquisition and determination of Indian citizenship”.  The Citizenship Rules, 2009 provides for creation of a Register of citizens saying, “The Central Government shall maintain a register containing the names and other details of the persons registered or naturalised as citizen of India”. The Act and the Rules do not provide for creation of Citizens Register based on without biometric data. As a consequence what the Union Home Ministry did under the previous government through NPR is without any legal mandate.  According to the Manual of Instructions for filling up of the NPR Household Schedule, 2011 prepared by the Office of the Registrar General & Census Commissioner (ORG&CCI), Union Ministry of Home Affairs, the objectives of NPR involves “Collection of personal details of all residents of the country and Capture of photograph and finger prints of all residents who are of age 15 years and above in villages/urban areas.” The data collection for preparation of NPR is undertaken along with the House listing Operations of Census 2011. It categorically states that “NPR will contain the details of all the 'usual residents' of the country regardless of whether they are citizens or non-citizens.” If that is the case how can it qualify to be an act under the Citizenship Act and Rules given the fact that the Register will have both citizens and non-citizens?  
I submit that as per the Manual, NPR’s utility lies in creation of “a comprehensive identity database in the country. This would not only strengthen security of the country but also help in better targeting of the benefits and services under the Government schemes/programmes and improve planning.” In such a case isn’t Census itself quite sufficient for it? 
In fact given the fact that Census Commissioner is supposed to gather the data of population under the Census Act, 1948 on the pre-condition that it would be kept secret and it will not be revealed even to the courts, when the Census Commissioner who is also the Registrar General of NPR undertakes the collection of Indian residents’ data that includes Indian citizens, a stark case of conflict of interest emerges. This is so because unlike the data collected under Census Act which is confidential as per Section 15 of the Act, the provisions of the Citizenship Act and the citizenship or nationality Rules that provides the basis for creation of the Register of citizens do not provide for confidentiality. The fact is that there is no mention of capturing biometrics in the Citizenship Act or Citizenship Rules. It is clear that the collection of biometrics is not a statutory requirement. This is not permissible even under Collection of Statistics Act. But both Unique Identification Authority of India (UIDAI) and ORG&CCI that are creating the aadhhar and aadhaar generating NPR are collecting biometric data as well. 
I submit that implementation of aadhaar and NPR s not a question of duplication alone; it is a question of treating citizens worse than prisoners.
I submit that the Identification of Prisoners Act provides that “Every person who has been, (a) convicted of any offence punishable with rigorous imprisonment for a term of one year or upwards, or of any offence which would render him liable to enhanced punishment on a subsequent conviction, or (b) ordered to give security for his good behaviour under Section 118 of the Code of Criminal Procedure, 1898, shall, if so required, allow his measurements and photograph to be taken by a Police Officer in the prescribed manner.” The Act is available on Internet.
It further provides that “Any person who has been arrested in connection with an offence punishable with rigorous imprisonment for a term of one year or upwards shall, if so required by a police officer, allow his measurements to be taken in the prescribed manner.”
As per Section 5 of the Act, “If a Magistrate is satisfied that, for the purposes of any investigation or proceeding under the Code of Criminal Procedure, 1898, it is expedient to direct any person to allow his measurements or photograph to be taken, he may make an order to the effect, and in that case the person to whom the order relates shall be produced or shall attend at the time and place specified in the order and shall allow his measurements or photograph to be taken, as the case may be, by a police officer:”
Providing for a dignified treatment of the citizens of India, Section 15 of the Census Act establishes that “Records of census not open to inspection nor admissible in evidence”. It reads: No person shall have a right to inspect any book, register or record made by a census-officer in the discharge of his duty as such, or any schedule delivered under section 10 and notwithstanding anything to the contrary in the Indian Evidence Act, 1872, no entry in any such book, register, record or schedule shall be admissible as evidence in any civil proceeding whatsoever or in any criminal proceeding other than a prosecution under this Act or any other law for any act or omission which constitutes an offence under this Act." Demolishing this dignity of the citizens, the Union Home Ministry is dehumanizing citizens by according them a status inferior to that of prisoners.     
As per Section 7 of Identification of Prisoners Act, “Where any person who, not having been previously convicted of an offence punishable with rigorous imprisonment for a term of one year or upwards, has had his measurements taken or has been photographed in accordance with the provisions of this Act is released without trial or discharged or acquitted by any court, all measurements and all photographs (both negatives and copies) so taken shall, unless the court or (in a case where such person is released without trial) the District Magistrate or Sub-divisional Officer for reasons to be recorded in writing otherwise directs, be destroyed or made over to him.”
But if 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 may be noted that last date of bid submission for opening of bids for biometric enrolment was 8th Nov 2011. The rural bids and urban bids for biometric enrolment were supposed to be opened on 9th Nov 2011. Even as these exercises are unfolding, the fact remains biometric data like finger print, voice print, iris scan and DNA do not reveal citizenship.
I submit that officially, Home Ministry’s NPR which is mentioned in Column 7 of the Aadaar/UID Enrolment Form seeks NPR Survey Slip No. is aimed at creating a comprehensive database of all usual residents in India based on digitization of demographic data captured during house listing operation in 2010 and collection of biometric data (photo, 10 fingerprints, iris of both eyes) for age 5+. Census Commissioner who is ex-officio Registrar General of India (RGI) has awarded the NPR project to Department of Information Technology for 19 States and 2 Union Territories that covers a total population of 49 crores in urban and 13 crores in rural areas, 74 zones and 410 districts.
It is relevant to note that Section 2 of the Information Technology Act defines "data" as “a representation of information, knowledge, facts, concepts or instructions which are being prepared or have been prepared in a formalised manner, and is intended to be processed, is being processed or has been processed in a computer system or computer network, and may be in any form (including computer printouts magnetic or optical storage media, punched cards, punched tapes) or stored internally in the memory of the computer.” It does not explicitly mention biometric data but given the fact that it refers to “whatever can be processed in a computer system or computer network, and may be in any form or stored” it seems implicitly included.   
It may be noted that these exercises precede the proposed enactment of Privacy Bill that defines "Record" as "any item, collection, or grouping  of information about an individual that is maintained by an agency, including, but not limited to, his education, financial transactions, medical history, and criminal or employment history and that contains his name, or the identifying number, symbol, or other identifying particular assigned to the individual, such as a finger or voice print or photograph or DNA" in its Section 2 (p). The Bill defines "surveillance as covertly following a person or watching a person, placing secret listening or filming devices near him, or using informants to obtain personal information about him" in Section 2 (o). Section 60 (1) refers to “National Data Controller Registry” that is proposed to be established as “an online database” and “appropriate electronic authentication protocols”. It may be noted that DNA Profiling Bill is also in the pipeline. 
I submit that even as the surveillance infrastructure that was bulldozed by the previous government unfolded in India, UK’s Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg said in a speech in British House of Commons said, “This government will end the culture of spying on its citizens. It is outrageous that decent, law-abiding people are regularly treated as if they have something to hide. It has to stop. So there will be no ID card scheme. No national identity register, a halt to second generation biometric passports,” He added, “We won’t hold your internet and email records when there is just no reason to do so. Britain must not be a country where our children grow up so used to their liberty being infringed that they accept it without question. Schools will not take children’s fingerprints without even asking their parent’s consent. This will be a government that is proud when British citizens stand up against illegitimate advances of the state.” The speech of the British Deputy Prime Minister is available at http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/uk_news/politics/8691753.stm
I submit that it is quite significant to take note of these developments to avoid the fate of Shri Tony Blair and his UK’s Identity Cards Act, 2006. Both have been abandoned. 
I submit that unlike UK, as per ORG&CCI, NPR process include collection of details including biometrics such as photograph, 10 fingerprints and Iris information for all persons aged 15 years and above. This is be done by arranging camps at every village and at the ward level in every town. Each household is required to bring the Acknowledgement Slip to such camps. In the next step, data is printed out and displayed at prominent places within the village and ward for the public to see. After authentication, the lists are sent to the UIDAI for de-duplication and issue of UID Numbers. The cleaned database along with the UID Number will then be sent back to the ORG&CCI and form the NPR.
It is evident that ORG&CCI has amalgamated its two independent mandates using two Forms for each household in India. The first form relates to the House listing and Housing Census that has 35 questions relating to Building material, Use of Houses, Drinking water, Availability and type of latrines, Electricity, possession of assets etc. The second form relates to the NPR that has 14 questions including name of the person, gender, date of birth, place of birth, marital status, name of father, name of mother, name of spouse, present address, duration of stay at present address, permanent address, occupation, nationality as declared, educational qualification and relationship to head of family. There are 10 columns in the Aadaar/UID Enrolment Form.
ORG&CCI admits that “all information collected under the Census is confidential and will not be shared with any agency - Government or private.” But it reveals that “certain information collected under the NPR will be published in the local areas for public scrutiny and invitation of objections. This is in the nature of the electoral roll or the telephone directory. After the NPR has been finalised, the database will be used only within the Government.”
I submit that while the dual work of Census and NPR has blurred the line between confidential and non-confidential, UIDAI has gone ahead to seek consent for “sharing information provided…to the UIDAI with agencies engaged in delivery of welfare services" as per Column 9 of the UID/Aadhaar Enrolment Form. Unmindful of the consent given by residents of India (which is being ticked automatically by the enroler in any case as of now), the fact is this information being collected for creating CIDR and NPR is being handed over to private foreign biometric technology companies like Safran group, a French corporation with 30 % stake of French government for seven years.
I submit that World Bank’s President who introduced Shri Nilekani at the lecture expressed his patronage for the project. Its video is available Bank’s website. It is not surprising given the fact that essentially it is part of its eTransform Initiative launched in April 2010 for 14 developing countries in partnership with transnational companies like L1, IBM and governments of France and South Korea.
I submit that at another lecture on November 23, 2012 Shri Nilekani talked about a gigantic naming ceremony underway-mankind’s biggest biometric database ever and ominously stated that if you do not have the Aadhaar card you will not get the right to rights. UID is like a financial address for the people. The question is if Aadhaar card is only an identifier of residents of India how does it accord to itself an inherent right to approve or disapprove rights of citizens to have rights? He mentioned the October 2012 report of the Report of the Justice A P Shah headed Group of Experts on Privacy but ignored the report of the Parliamentary Standing Committee and Statement of Concern on UID that Justice Shah had co-signed. When UIDAI Chairperson acknowledged that privacy is larger than Aadhaar and says that legal framework will even out the design risks, he took the audience for ride because while the legal framework for both the UID and Privacy is absent the implementation of UID and NPR is unfolding illegally and illegitimately.
I submit that previous Government had put the cart before the horse, how does Privacy Bill make sense when privacy of citizens is already violated through aadhaar/UID related tracking and profiling system being implemented.
In the face of such assault on Parliament’s prerogative, State’s autonomy, citizens’ rights and the emergence of a regime that is making legislatures subservient to database and data mining companies, the urgent intervention of the PSC, Parliament, States, political parties and citizens besides your action cannot be postponed anymore.
In view of the above, the biometric identification projects like aadhaar number NPR should be abandoned as it constitutes violation of basic human rights of the present generation and future generations.

I will be happy to share the documents cited in this letter with you.

Yours Sincerely
Gopal Krishna
Citizens Forum for Civil Liberties (CFCL),
Mb: 09818089660, 08227816731

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