PRESS RELEASE-Parliamentary Committee Accepts Petition Against Biometric Data Collection, #Aadhaar, #UID & NPR


Press Release


After communicating its concerns to Parliamentary Committee, NHRC communicates human rights concerns on UID, RFID to Home Ministry

New Delhi:In a significant development, P. Karunakaran, Chairperson, Parliamentary Committee on Subordinate Legislation has accepted the petition with regard biometric data collection related to Planning Commission’s Aadhaar/Unique Identification (UID) Number and Home Ministry’s National Population Register (NPR). The petition was submitted by Citizens Form for Civil Liberties (CFCL), which as earlier given testimony before the Parliamentary Committee that has rejected the UID Bill. The letter from the Parliamentary Committee on Subordinate Legislation is attached.

The letter reads, “I have received a copy of your petition (118 pages) regarding 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.”

In a related development, in an order date December 27, 2012 addressed to Secretary, Union Ministry of Home Affairs, National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) has communicated human rights concerns regarding UID and Radio Frequency Identification (RFID) submitted to it by CFCL. Earlier, NHRC had expressed its deep concerns and apprehensions about UID and “biometric information” in its submission before the Parliamentary Standing Committee on Finance.

In the matter of now rejected National Identification Authority of India (NIAI) Bill, 2010,  “NHRC’s views on the NIAI Bill, 2010″ in the Human Rights Newsletter (Vol. 18 No.8, August 2011) reveals that UID/Aadhaar Number has dangerous ramifications is quite relevant in this regard. NHRC’s view was presented to the Parliamentary Standing Committee (PSC) on Finance. The PSC submitted its report to the Parliament on December 13, 2011 rejecting the UID Bill.

Echoing NHRC’s view on “need for protection of information” and “the possibility of tampering with stored biometric information” in paragraph 5 (page no. 7 of the NHRC newsletter) and “disclosure of information in the interest of national security” mentioned in paragraph 9 (page no.8 of the newsletter), the Central Government’s Draft Discussion Paper on Privacy Bill admits, “There is no data protection statute in the country.”

On UID Number, the Draft Paper on Privacy Bill stated, “Data privacy and the need to protect personal information is almost never a concern when data is stored in a decentralized 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.”

The Draft Paper on Privacy Bill discloses, “Once this happens, the separation of data that currently exists between multiple databases will vanish.” This poses a threat to the identity of citizens and the idea of residents of the state as private persons will be forever abandoned.

In view of NHRC’s observation that UID/Aadhaar Number will lead to discrimination due to  its distinction between residents and citizens in the name of “delivery of various benefits and services” and “weaker sections of society” is quite stark. Late Roger Needham, a British computer scientist aptly said, “if you think IT is the solution to your problem, then you don’t understand IT, and you don’t understand your problem either.”

Among other documents STATEMENT OF CONCERN ON UNIQUE IDENITY (UID) NUMBER issued by 17 eminent citizens has been submitted before the Parliamentary Committee on Suordinate Legislation .

With regard to UID and related schemes, the statement has asked for a feasibility study, a cost-benefit analysis, assessment of national security concerns, data theft, constitutionality of this project, including in the matter of privacy, the relationship between the state and the people, security and other fundamental rights of citizens.

The petition draws the attention towards the Undemocratic Process in which UIDAI has been set-up besides issues regarding Privacy,  Surveillance, Profiling,  Tracking and Convergence The statement reds: “This is a project that could change the status of the people in this country, with effects on our security and constitutional rights, and a consideration of all aspects of the project should be undertaken with this in mind.”  In view of these concerns it asked for the halting of the project and a public, informed debate be conducted before such a major change is allowed.

The signatories to the statement included Justice VR Krishna Iyer, former judge, Supreme Court of India, Prof Romila Thapar, noted historian, members of National Advisory Council, Aruna Roy and Deep Joshi, Prof. Upendra Baxi, Jurist and ex-Vice Chancellor of Universities of Surat and Delhi, Bezwada Wilson, Safai Karamchari Andolan, Trilochan Sastry, IIMB, and Association for Democratic Reforms, Prof. Jagdish Chhokar, ex- IIMA, and Association for Democratic Rights and Justice A.P.Shah, Retired Chief Justice of High Court of Delhi.

In a setback to central government’s effort to bulldoze UID and related schemes, following the direction issued to the Union of India and Union Territory of Chandigarh by Punjab and Haryana High Court in the matter of Civil Writ Petition 569 of 2013 filed in the High Court against Union of India and others, the Executive Order for making Unique Identification (UID)/Aadhaar mandatory has been withdrawn.
In its order the bench of Justice A K Sikri, Chief Justice and Justice Rakesh Kumar Jain dated February 19, 2013 had not noted that the petition “raises a pure question of law.” Since the Executive Order was withdrawn, the case too was disposed of March 2, 2013 with a two page order.  The Order observes, “In this writ petition filed as PIL, the petitioner has challenged the vires of notification issued by Union of India for making it compulsory to have UID Cards.”

It is further observed that “Second issue raised in this petition is that vide order dated 5.12.2012, respondent No.3 i.e. Deputy Commissioner, U.T., Chandigarh has given directions to the Branch In charge Registration-cum-Accountant, office of Registering & Licensing Authority, Chandigarh not to accept any application for registration of vehicle and grant of learner/regular driving licence without UID card.”  It is quite bizarre that Union Territory of Chandigarh remains ignorant of the fact that UID is not a card, it is a 12 digit number. The entire government machinery is hiding the fact that fundamentally UID is not a proof of identity, it is an identifier contained in the Central Identities Data Repository (CIDR) of (UID)/Aadhaar Numbers. Union Territory of Chandigarh failed to inform the Court the UID is not a card but an identification number based on biometric data without any legal mandate. One of the prayers in the petition in Chandigarh had sought issuance of a writ in the nature of certiorari to quash Executive order dated 5.12.2012 passed by respondent no.3  passed in violation of Motor Vehicles Act, 1988 and Central Motor Vehicle Rules, 1989 vide which  UID has been mandatory for the registration of vehicles  and grant of learner/ regular driving licence.

This reveals that attempt to make UID/Aadhaar is an act of bullying by the government agencies like Delhi’s Revenue Department which must be challenged, resisted and boycotted.

The petition before the Parliamentary Standing Committee on Subordinate legislation draws attention towards how all the residents and citizens of India are being made subordinate to prisoner’s status by the ongoing collection of their “biometric information” that includes finger prints, iris scan for permanent storage in a Centralized Identities Data Register (CIDR) and National Population Register (NPR). This is being done ‘as per an approved strategy” by Planning Commission and Union Ministry of Home Affairs without any legal mandate.

For Details: Gopal Krishna, Member, Citizens Form for Civil Liberties (CFCL), Mb: 9818089660 (Delhi),
E-mail: krishna1715@gmail.com

 

#India – #Aadhaar #UID is Against Equality and Democracy


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 Moiz Tundawala, Kafila.org

 

MARCH 18, 2013

 

tags: AadhaardemocracyIdentification TechnologyIdentity Card,surveillanceUID

 

by Shuddhabrata Sengupta

 

Guest Post by Moiz Tundawala

 

After the suppression of the 1857 Mutiny and the British take over of Delhi, Mirza Ghalib was once asked by a military official whether he were Muslim or not. Ghalib is said to have quipped: “Only half Muslim; I drink wine but refrain from swine.” For me, this ripost evinces a flippant disdain for modern forms of rule which essentialize persons and groups purely based on certain attributes which are deemed definitive and prioritized over others. As far as Ghalib’s case was concerned, the idea may have been to find out based on his religious identity if at all he could pose problems for the newly established colonial regime. In later years, this policy, which African intellectual Mahmood Mamdani has recently termed ‘define and rule’, gradually became integral to governmental practices in most parts of the modern world; today, populations are ever so readily classified and enumerated based on empirically observable characteristics in order to make them amenable to effective government. The Aadhaar project of the Unique Identification Authority of India clearly falls within the gamut of such practices, marking a transition to modernity in a radical break from the past. So my reservations with it are just the same as those with any other modernity inspired programme wherein personal and collective identities are reduced to a somewhat arbitrarily determined bare essence which may have no real connection with lived experiences of fuzzy and contextually constructed identities.

 

 

 

Constitutionally speaking, there may be nothing wrong in such governmental classifications as long as they are reasonable enough. India’s is a modern constitution afterall. what it does prohibit however, is state discrimination against citizens based only on status grounds such as religion, race, caste, sex and place of birth. But, far from discrimination, what has Aadhaar got to do with classifications in the first place? Isnt the unique identification number being provided to all residents in India without any distinction what so ever?

 

That every resident is entitled to an Aadhaar card may no doubt be true, but as is the case with any governmental project identifying people based on some fixed indicia, classifications are inevitable. The UID, although apparently universal, has the effect of making a classification between persons whose biometrics are relatively stable, and those whose are not. While such a classification itself may not be constitutionally problematic, if it results in the exclusion of a large section of society from the purview of government benefits, then there is cause for worry. Even more so, when the excluded largely comprise already vulnerable and least well off populations.

 

It is increasingly becoming clear that the biometric indicators relied upon for the unique identification of persons such as fingerprints and iris scans do not remain permanently static across space and time, and hence cannot be treated as inalienable markers of identity. For example, millions of workers who are compelled by necessity to make greater use of their bare hands in agriculture, construction and other forms of manual labour are likely to possess a poorer quality of fingerprints for the purpose of this technology, as opposed to someone whose circumstances permit the luxury of working from a desk in an air-conditioned room all day. The same can be said of the elderly whose fingers may get worn out naturally with the passage of time. Next, persons with visual impairments and disabilities like blindness, retinopathy, glaucoma, anirida, cataract and corneal injuries may invariably have less perfect iris prints compared to the empirically average sighted person. Finally, even though documentary evidence of demographic information including name, residential address, age and gender may not have been made absolutely necessary for proper identification, the presumption never the less remains that people stick to their residences long enough for UID enrollment operators to pursue them at their convenience. The failure here is to acknowledge the possibility of migrations and frequent mobility of populations in search of work and livelihood.

 

So, the seemingly benign, rather beneficial Aadhaar project has the potential of indirectly discriminating against poor, laboring, elderly and disabled peoples. They would simply stand excluded from government entitlements whenever their actual particulars do not match those on record, and as more and more data from the ground suggests, there are strong chances of this happening with alarming regularity. This outcome I believe, is contrary to Article 14 of the Constitution, which guarantees to every person equality before the law and the equal protection of the laws throughout the territory of India. If the governmental objective in initiating Aadhaar is taken to be the facilitation of welfare distribution among the population, the effective classification of persons on the basis of the stability of biometrics would fall foul of even the doctrine of rational nexus, a relatively lax establishment deferential test employed by the judiciary to scrutinize the reasonableness of classifications made by the executive or legislature. Clearly, there is no rational connection here between the object sought to be achieved and the intelligible differentia for the classification: it is preposterous, nay sinister, to come up with welfare programmes which have the effect of excluding the already marginalized and least advantaged. I would venture to say that Aadhaar is antithetical to the idea of a constitution based social revolution in which, if at all, affirmative action programmes are supposed to discriminate in favour of such peoples, never against them.

 

Not only this. The concept of Aadhaar goes against the very spirit of an open democracy in which unbounded peoples can deliberate over and compete for access to resources and power. Pinning down personal identities with precision to certain arbitrarily determined fixed markers tantamounts to excluding those who do not readily fit the bill from participating in the game of democracy. As cultural anthropologist Christopher Boehm points out, the last few centuries have seen several sporadic but highly successful attempts to reverse the five millennia old human trend towards hierarchy in favour of equality. However, the new egalitarian governing arrangements are formed not simply from an absence of hierarchy; instead, what is noticeable is the creation of “a special type of hierarchy based on anti-hierarchical feelings” in which “the pyramid of power is turned upside down, with a politically united rank and file decisively dominating the alpha-male types.” Now the tables may have turned and the people may have taken the place of the prince, but the modern paraphernalia which states continuously use to identify, enumerate and classify their populations only means, to borrow political philosopher Partha Chatterjee’s words, that “we are all princely impostors until we can prove otherwise.”

 

I look at Aadhaar not as an aberration in an otherwise equality and democracy loving state, but rather as an extreme manifestation of the urge to control and discipline people by defining what they are as opposed to engaging with who they are. It is plane convenient to strip persons to some bare essences in order to govern over them better, notwithstanding the lack of correspondence with a much more complicated reality. If this, that is effective governability, be the actual goal of the project, then there can be nothing unconstitutional about it. Aadhaar would definitely serve the cause well enough. However, here I am talking about the Constitution of India as a nation-state, not that of India as a civilization. It is only nationalism which, as George Orwell would have it, has the “habbit of assuming that human beings can be classified like insects … that whole blocks of people can be confidently labeled good or bad.” To be fair, Aadhaar is not into this business of labeling chunks of people as good or bad, it merely grants to every Indian resident a unique identification number. Never the less, the metrics used and the concomitant essentialization of identities smacks of the same nationalist mentality. The person with stable biometrics is the new good for governmental purposes. Everyone else can forget about the Preambular promise of ‘Justice, social, economic and political’.

 

When the matter regarding the constitutionality of Aadhaar comes up for adjudication, the Supreme Court can sure proceed on this nationalist logic and uphold the programme in its entirety. In fact, it could even iron out some creases in the existing plan so that the project becomes more authentically national. It is strange that all residents, which may as well include foreign nationals, are being provided an Aadhaar card. India must be meant only for Indians isn’t it? I would not be surprised if this aspect of Aadhaar is struck down, and the project is restricted to Indian citizens alone, especially with the rightward shift of the polity in recent times.

 

But if the Court is mindful of civilizational sensitivities, I believe it has no option but to completely denounce the idea of Aadhaar. Today, the UIDAI is invading the privacy of individuals without the authority of law. This is sufficient grounds to declare it unconstitutional. But tomorrow, the government may succeed in obtaining Parliamentary endorsement to a legal framework for the programme. Then the privacy challenge might not survive; the Supreme Court does not have a consistently strong jurisprudence on substantive due process as of now. What the Court can do under the circumstances, is to resort to the equality clause in the Constitution and contextualize it within the idea of India as a civilization which has never envisaged a rigid demarcation between the self and other. So just as Ghalib’s Muslimness did not exhaust his identity, my Indianness does not exhaust mine, and neither should the presence or absence of some markers on the body of my person exclusively determine the entitlements I can legitimately claim from the state. It is for the Court to see through the façade of an innocuous looking national identity project, or else in the otherwise, the implications for our civilizational commitment to an equality tolerant of diversity will be dire. Troubling is the thought of the coming into being of two more permanent classes of haves and have nots in the near future, merely because the state could not bring its policies in line with the pluriverse of bodies and persons under its government.

 

References
Christopher Boehm, Hierarchy in the Forest: The Evolution of Egalitarian Behaviour 2001.
Granville Austin, The Indian Constitution: Cornerstone of a Nation 1966.
Mahmood Mamdani, Define and Rule: Native as Political 2012.
Partha Chatterjee, A princely Impostor?: The Strange and Universal History of the Kumar of Bhawal 2002.

 

 

 

PRESS RELEASE- Kidnapping of Student Leaders Mandeep Singh and Pradeep Singh by the Lawless AP Police!


COMMITTEE FOR THE RELEASE OF POLITICAL PRISONERS
185/3, FOURTH FLOOR, ZAKIR NAGAR, NEW DELHI-110025
18/03/2013
Condemn the Kidnapping of Student Leaders Mandeep Singh and Pradeep Singh by the  Lawless AP Police!
Release them Unconditionally!

The lawless Andhra Pradesh Special Police in yet another act of impunity have kidnapped Mandeep Singh, a student leader of Jagruk Chatra Morcha, Haryana from Chandigarh. As reported by human rights fraternity from Chandigarh Mr. Mandeep Singh was illegally detained by the Andhra Pradesh Special Police on 9 March 2013 from Chandigarh which is not their jurisdiction. He was kept in illegal detention since 9 March and was produced most probably at the court of Mancherial in Adilabad district, Andhra Pradesh only on the 16 March 2013. A false case was slapped on him under the draconian Andhra Pradesh Public Security Act. This has been the modus operandi of the Andhra Pradesh Special Police to kidnap people from other states and keep them under illegal confinement for days to torture so as to extract confessions from the detained. Given the criminal track record of AP Special Police it was inevitable that Mr. Mandeep Singh would have met with the same fate of the likes of others like Cherukuzhi Rajkumar (@Azad) or Hem Chandra Pandey who were similarly kidnapped and killed in custody. But for the massive protests and cases filed against the acts of impunity of the AP Special Police have to some extent curtailed the beast in them that this time they have decided to create a fanciful story of arrest of Mr. Mandeep Singh in one of the districts in North Telangana.
What had created more concern is the whereabouts of another student Pradeep Singh of Punjab Engineering College, Chandigarh who has also been illegally detained by the notorious AP Special Police since 9 March. For some strange reason Pradeep Singh was released to one of his friends at Bhopal in Madhya Pradesh. The AP Special Cell is answerable as to whether the law permit them to keep Mr. Pradeep Singh under illegal confinement for more than five days to be released in an intriguing manner at Bhopal to one of his friends. The more desperate fact is that the apex courts in India has time and again raised their concerns about the growing impunity and criminality of the police and paramilitary only to remain silent after that without any course of concrete action to stem the deep rot. Instead the order of the day is the police of all hues going unabated filing false cases and manufacturing evidence flouting all norms and procedures and last but not the least indulging in the worst forms of torture to extract the so-called confessions. Arrests based on third party confessions have become the standard operating procedure of the police with the AP Special Police leading the rest in this trade.
CRPP condemns strongly the lawless, mafia-type conduct of the AP Special Police and demand a judicial probe be conducted into such criminal conduct and the culprits brought to book. Once again the media which sensationalise every criminal act of the police and indulge in blatant media trials towards manufacturing consent to implicate anyone under the garb of fighting ‘terror’ has maintained a criminal silence on this count wherein the role of the police in violating the law is evident. Only the vigilant and freedom loving people can uncompromisingly fight such fascist tendencies of the state and its police when there is already talks going on about the constitution of the National Counter Terrorism Centre (NCTC) despite several reservations and concerns raised from several quarters about the ravages such a body can create in the length and breadth of the Indian subcontinent. Rather the modus operandi of the AP Special Police is a forerunner towards how an NCTC will actually operate at the ground level or even without such a body the notorious AP Special Police has already been performing that role of picking up people from other states not under its jurisdiction, keeping them in torture chambers for days and finally showing them either killed in fake encounters or if the detainee is a bit fortunate in trumped up cases in some of the districts in Telangana or Andhra Pradesh. We need to resolutely fight this!
In Solidarity,
SAR Geelani
President

Amit Bhattacharyya
Secretary General

MN Ravunni
Vice President

Rona Wilson
Secretary, Public Relations

 

Maharashtra -Dalit man commits suicide after police assault


Last Updated: Friday, March 15, 2013, Zee news
Gadchiroli (Maharashtra): A Dalit man committed suicide here in Eastern Maharashtra with his family alleging he took the extreme step after being assaulted by the police.

The victim, identified only as Sachin, escaped from a police van after being taken into custody and jumped into a well in village Katli near here Thursday. His body was fished out late in the night, police sources said.

His family this morning lodged a complaint with the Gadchiroli police station demanding action against the police personnel who allegedly assaulted him during a raid.

When contacted, Sub-Divisional Police Officer (SDPO) Rahul Khade said based on the complaint a probe has been ordered into the alleged police brutality. “We will take action against those found guilty,” he maintained.

According to the sources, a team of five Constables, including a woman, raided Sachin’s house on suspicion that he was engaged in illegal liquor trade.

When Sachin denied selling liquor, the policemen thrashed him with sticks and belt. They also assaulted his two sisters and mother, the complaint alleged.

The police then arrested Sachin and put him into a van, from where he ran off and jumped into the well, it said.

An organisation representing the community to which the victim belonged has demanded dismissal of the police personnel involved in the incident and registration of a case against them under the SC/ST Prevention of Atrocities Act.

Samayya Pasula, President of Madgi Samaj Sangathana, said a compensation of Rs 25 lakh should be given to the family of the deceased.

Meanwhile, tension prevailed in the village, where additional police force has been deployed to maintain law and order.

PTI

 

Bombay High Court PIL regardings aftey issues and THE ORDER r #Aadhaar #UID


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March 18 , 2013, Kamayani Bali Mahabal, Mumbai 

The Bombay High Court  today  directed the Unique Identification Authority of India and Central government to decide within three months  on a representation questioning the lack of safeguards in the Aadhaar card and UID . The Court  was hearing a Public Interest Litigation filed  by Vickram Krishna,  Kamayani Bali  Mahabal, Yogesh Pawar, Dr Nagarjuna G,  and Prof. R. Ramkumar ( TISS).

The Standing Committee has found the project to be “full of uncertainty in technology as the complex scheme is built upon untested, unreliable technology and several assumptions”. This is a serious concern given that the project is about fixing identity through the use of technology, especially biometrics. As early as December 2009, the Biometrics Standards Committee set up by the UIDAI had reported adversely on the error rate. Since then, neither the Proof of Concept studies nor any assessment studies done by the UIDAI have been able to affirm the possibility of maintaining accuracy as the database expands to accommodate 1.2 billion people. The estimated failure of biometrics is expected to be as high as 15 per cent.

Advocate for the peititoners, Mihir Desai, told the court, that there were severe  concerns on the issue of safety systems, privacy and security of the People. A data base of this scale of 1.2 billion people’s finger prints and iris scans has never been created. Thus the entire proposition for a population base such as India is completely untested and unproven.  The ID system inUK ID Cards’ non-duplication  was entirely scrapped. It is estimated that approximately five per cent of any population has unreadable fingerprints, either due to scars or aging or illegible prints. In the Indian environment, experience has shown that the failure to enrol is as high as 15 per cent due to the prevalence of a huge population dependent on manual labour.

One of the biggest illegalities being committed under the Aaadhaar scheme is by making it mandatory through coercive conditions. UID has always, repeatedly stated that Aadhaar is a voluntary scheme. Thus, enrolment for Aadhaar is a voluntary act. The NIAI draft Bill, which seeks to legitimatize the functioning of the first Respondent, is so worded to establish that Aadhaar is optional and not compulsory. However, in its premature implementation, in practice the scheme is gradually being made non-voluntary and mandatory. This is made worse by adoption of coercive pre-conditions by different government departments.

The Hon’ble Supreme Court of India has repeatedly upheld the right to privacy within the right to life in Article 21, and any restriction must be justified through a rational and reasonable statutory procedure. UIDAI, as it presently stands is prima facie unconstitutional for contravening the right to privacy without providing any safeguards, procedures and guidelines

Adv Mihir Desai argued that The UID was promoted as a `voluntary’ `entitlement’. Now, people are being threatened that they cannot access any services or institutions unless they are enrolled for a UID. The petition submitted stated that the enrollment for Aadhaar is working on an extremely fast pace that it has become impossible to avoid attempts at enrolment. The Petitioners submit that such mandatory, non-voluntary and coercive enrolment for Aadhaar is an affront to their to personal integrity, right to make decisions about themselves and the right to dignity all enshrined and developed as indivisible elements of the Right to Life under Article 21 of the Constitution.

Download PIL ORDER

Read thE full petition below

IN THE HIGH COURT OF JUDICATURE AT BOMBAY

ORDINARY ORIGINAL CIVIL JURISDICTION

PUBLIC INTEREST LITIGATION NO.                   OF 2011

In the matter of the public interest of protecting the rights of privacy, autonomy, dignity and free and full enjoyment of life of the citizens of India, guaranteed under Articles 19 and 21 of the Indian Constitution;

AND

In the matter of non-voluntary and premature implementation of “Aadhaar” in strict breach of Article 21 of the Indian Constitution

AND

In the matter of excessive delegation of essential function without any guidelines, rules or police framework in Notification Dated 29th January 2009 creating the UIDAI

AND

In the matter of potential breaches of the right to privacy of citizens of India, through the

means of data collection, storage and sharing by the UIDAI, without any legitimate and rational nexus of improving the public welfare system

AND

In the matter of standing committee of the Parliament Report report dated 13th December 2010 rejecting the proposed National Identification Authority of India Bill, 2010

  1. Vickram Krishna,  Kamayani Bali  Mahabal, Yogesh Pawar, Dr Nagarjuna G,  and Prof. R. Ramkumar,    …Petitioners

Versus

  1. UNIQUE IDENTIFICATION AUTHORITY OF INDIA,

Planning Commission,

Government of India,

3rd Floor, Tower II,

Jeevan Bharati Building,

Connaught Circus,

New Delhi 110001

  1. Mr. A. B. Pandey.

Deputy Director General, UIDAI,

Mumbai Regional Office,

5th & 7th Floor, MTNL Building,

BD Somani Marg, Cuffe Parade,

Mumbai 400 005

2.  The Chairperson, Planning Commission of India,

Yojana Bhavan, Sansad Marg,

New Delhi.

  1. National Informatics Centre

Department of Information Technology,
Ministry of Communications and Information Technology,
A-Block, CGO Complex,

Lodhi Road, New Delhi – 110 003 India

  1. Union of India

Through the Ministry of Finance

New Delhi.

  1. Union of India

Through the Ministry of Home Affairs

New Delhi.        … RESPONDENTS

TO

THE HON’BLE CHIEF JUSTICE

AND THE OTHER HONOURABLE PUISNE

JUDGES OF THIS HON’BLE COURT

THE HUMBLE PETITION

OF THE PETITIONER ABOVENAMED

MOST RESPECTFULLY SHOWETH:

PUBLIC INTEREST LITIGATION PETITION

  1. Particulars of the cause/ order against which the Petition is made: The Petitioners are filing this public interest litigation to challenge the Notification dated 29th January 2009that created the Unique Identity Authority of India (U.I.D.A.I.), an agency established under the aegis of the Planning Commission to issue Unique Identity Numbers (UID) to every Indian citizen.
  1. The Petitioner submits that UIDAI was created through an executive fiat to enable the process of issuing UID cards across India, without any rules, procedures, or guidelines. Its further extension, universalisation and implementation across the nation remains must contingent upon both an initial success together alongwith legislative passage of the proposed National Identification Authority of India Bill, 2010 (hereinafter referred to as the NIDAI Bill). The Petitioners submit that in further developments by a report dated 13th December 2011, the Standing Committee of the Parliament has rejected the present draft of the NIDAI as not meeting the required constitutional standards.
  1. However, in complete disregard to both, UID numbers without any safeguards against the tremendous breach of privacy entrenched in the scheme as it presently stands are being issued across the country without any legislative framework. Aside from this an ostensively optional and a premature scheme is being converted into a mandatory requirement with the aid of different government agencies and state governments.
    1. PARTICULARS OF THE PETITIONERS
    2. Petitioner No. 1  is an engineer and manager by training. He is engaged with an ongoing project to understand issues around awareness of personal privacy rights across Asia. In the course of earlier globally recognised projects to develop specialised software for the profoundly disabled and communication solutions for poverty-stricken rural and urban dwellers, he has together with colleagues observed empirically that privacy concerns are palpable across different strata of society. The Petitioner submits that the present move to tag every Indian resident with unique numbers, a massive project of unknown scope and questionable possibility of success, is made increasingly dangerous as it may lead to access to personal information by third parties.
    1. Petitioner No. 2 is a human rights activist with background in  clinical psychology, journalism and law. She is an expert on gender, health and human rights and part ofvarious networks and campaigns related to these issues. She has been active in ‘Say No to UID” campaign which has disseminated much needed information about the  UID in various forums including colleges, slums and NGOs in order to generate a much wider public discussion on the subject.
    1. Petitioner No. 3 is a social work graduate from Tata Institute of Social Sciences. He has been a counsellor for two years and then crossed over into Journalism. For the past 15 years he has been a journalist with The Indian Express, rediff.com, NDTV and DNA. His forte has been reporting on issues of development and public interest.Since the launch of UID the Petitioner has been reporting on the issue through both news reports and columns against it and the regime it unleashes.
    1. Petitioner No. 4 is a social activist. She is a double post-graduate in English Literature and Sociology. She has also has a diploma in journalism. As a social worker the Petitioner has worked on issues of civic governance and ensuring that targets on sanitation, and access to basis services are met. Through her journalism work the Petitioner has also successfully exposed some of the misuse and pitfalls of the UID scheme.
    1. Respondent No. 1 is the impugned UIDAI authority which functions under an executive authority, through the impugned executive notification dated 28th January 2009. Respondent No. 2 is the regional UIDAI authority for the Mumbai Region, responsible for registering and enrollment for the UID scheme through the help of government agencies and private parties. Respondent No. 3 is the Planning Commission of India which has played a crucial role in conceiving the UID scheme and its current planning and implementation.
    1. Respondents Nos. 4– 6 are different agencies and ministries that have independently expressed concerns about duplication, lack of safeguards, excessive expenditure with the present UID scheme before the Standing Committee of the Parliament. Quoting from the report of the Standing Committee:

“The Committee regret to observe that despite the presence of serious difference of opinion within the Government on the UID scheme as illustrated below, the scheme continues to be implemented in an

    1. The Ministry of Finance (Department of Expenditure) have expressed concern that lack of coordination is leading to duplication of efforts and expenditure among at least six agencies collecting information (NPR, MGNREGS, BPL census, UIDAI, RSBY and Bank Smart Cards);
    2. 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;
    3. The National Informatics Centre (NIC) have pointed out that the issues relating to privacy and security of UID data could be better handled by storing in a Government data centre;
    4. The Ministry of Planning have expressed reservation over the merits and functioning of the UIDAI; and the necessity of collection of iris image;
    5. Involvement of several nodal appraising agencies which may work at cross-purpose; and
    6. Several Government agencies are collecting biometric(s) information in the name of different schemes.”

All the Respondents are amenable to the Writ Jurisdiction of this Hon’ble Court.

    1. DECLARATION AND UNDERTAKING OF   PETITIONERS
  1. That the present Petition is being filed in public interest. Petitioners No.1, 2 and 3 do not have any personal interest in the matter. Petitioners No. 4 to 7 have personal interest which is disclosed in para 9 above.
  1. That the entire litigation costs, including the Advocates fees and other charges are being borne by the Petitioners.
  2. That a thorough search has been conducted in the matter raised through the Petition and all the material concerning the same has been annexed to this Petition.
  3. That to the best of the Petitioners knowledge and research the issue raised was not dealt with or decided and a similar or identical petition was not filed earlier by the Petitioners.
  4. That the Petitioners have understood that in the course of hearing of this Petition the Court may require any security to be furnished towards costs or any other charges and the Petitioners shall have to comply with such requirements.
  5. In the absence of parliamentary approval, and in the light of the scathing review of the performance of the UIDAI by the Parliamentary Standing Committee on Finance, citizens are left with no alternative but to approach the Hon’ble Court to place an embargo on Aaadhaar, until it undergoes full Parliamentary scrutiny to evaluate its effectiveness and Constitutionality.
  1. The Petitioners submit that through this PIL they represent a much wider discontent with the UID scheme that has been expressed in numerous foras. A recent letter by prominent writers, lawyers, historians, and judges has argued strongly for constitutional safe guards in UID. To reproduce the content of the letter below:

“A 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. The process of setting up the Unique Identification Authority of India (UIDAI) has resulted in very little, if any, discussion about this project and its effects and fallout. It is intended to collect demographic data about all residents in the country.

Before it goes any further, we consider it imperative that the following be done:

(i)  Do a feasibility study: There are claims made in relation to the project, about what it can do for the PDS and NREGA, for instance, which does not reflect any understanding of the situation on the ground. The project documents do not say what other effects the project may have, including its potential to be intrusive and violative of privacy, who may handle the data.

(ii)  Do a cost-benefit analysis: It is reported that the UIDAI estimates the project will cost Rs. 45,000 Crores to the exchequer in the next four years. This does not seem to include the costs that will be incurred by the registrars, enrollers, the internal systems costs that the PDs system will have to budget if it is to be able to use the UID, the estimated cost to the end user and to the number holder.

(iii)  In a system such as this, a mere statement that the UIDAI will deal with the security of the data is obviously insufficient. How does the UIDAI propose to deal with data theft?
(iv)  The involvement of firms such as Ernst & Young and Accenture PLC raises further questions about who will have access to the data, and what that means to the people of India. The questions have been raised which have not been addressed so far, including those about:

    1. Privacy: It is only now that the Department of Personnel and Training is said to be working on a draft of a privacy law, but nothing is out for discussion,
    1. Surveillance: This technology, and the existence of the UID number, and its working, could result in increasing the potential for surveillance,
    1. Profiling,
    1. Tracking, and
    1. Convergence, by which those with access to state power, as well as companies, could collate information about each individual with the help of the UID number. National IDs have been abandoned in the US, Australia and the UK. The reasons have predominantly been costs and privacy.
      If it is too expensive for the US with a population of 308 million, and the UK with 61 million people, and Australia with 21 million people, it is being asked why India thinks it can prioritise its spending in this direction. In the UK the 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”. Is there a lesson in it for us?

This is a project that could change the status of the people in this country, with effects on our security and constitutional rights. So a consideration of all aspects of the project should be  undertaken with this in mind.

We, therefore, ask that the project be halted; a feasibility study be done covering all aspects of this issue; experts be tasked with studying its constitutionality; the law on privacy be urgently worked on (this will affect matters way beyond the UID project); a cost-benefit analysis be done; a public, informed debate be conducted before any such major change be brought in.

Justice V R Krishna Iyer,
Romila Thapar,
K G Kannabiran,
S R Sankaran,
Upendra Baxi,
Shohini Ghosh,
Bezwada Wilson,
Trilochan Sastry,
Jagdeep Chhokar,
Justice A P Shah,
and others.”

Till date there is no response from the Respondents to numerous such representations. Copy of the aforesaid letter is annexed hereto and marked as Exhibit A.

    1. Issues:
  1. The rejection of the UID Scheme as represented through the NIDAI Bill by the Standing Committee of the Parliament, calls for an immediate cessation of the executive scheme of UID.
  1. Aadhaar/UID scheme needs to be quashed for breach of Articles 14, 15, 19 and 21 of the Indian Constitution.
  2. The Aaadhaar numbers scheme as it stands is unconstitutional as it vests in the State immense power to monitor the activities of Indian residents and violate their fundamental right to privacy.
  3. There is no rational nexus between the collation and convergence of personal data of every citizen and the stated objective of UID, which is primarily to improve the distribution of welfare services.
  4. Given that biometrics cannot succeed in creating a unique identification, the objective of non-duplication cannot rationally be achieved by invasive means of collecting personal information, which is a grave beach of the right to privacy. Any subsequent tampering of the biometric information contained in the proposed database of personal information will result in unprecedented damage to the right to life and liberty of the affected person or persons.
  5. The technology adopted by UIDAI for the capture of biometric information ie digital fingerprint recording, is known to be insufficiently accurate to function as an identifier. An additional biometric identifier, iris scanning, has been found to be too expensive to be universally deployed. Thus the use of biometric identification to uniquely authenticate and verify the identities persons residing in India, upwards of 130 crore persons at the time of filing this petition, is unsuitable, leaving UIDAI’s proposed solution to the problem of issuing persons in India unique identity numbers infructuous and necessitating cessation of this risky, invasive and expensive project.
  6. Collection of data by outsourcing enrolment for Aadhaar has huge implications on privacy
  7. Convergence and collation of personal information in a digital form and unrestricted access to such information by the National Intelligence Grid, without any legislated and constitutional safe guards is a grave breach of the right to privacy enshrined in Article 21 of the Constitution.
  8. Should the Courts not intervene to put an embargo on Aadhaar, until it undergoes parliamentary scrutiny to evaluate its effectiveness and constitutionality?
  9. The non-mandatory nature of implementation of Aadhaar, through excessive delegation of powers to sub-registrars under the scheme has both gone beyond the voluntary nature of the scheme, and created greater potential for leakage and misuse of sensitive personal information; without any legislative safeguards.
    1. FACTS IN BRIEF CONSTITUTING THE CASE.
  1. The Unique Identity Project (the “UID”), a brainchild of the Planning Commission, was announced with the ambitious agenda of collecting and documenting biometric and other information of the entire Indian population. To this end, the Planning Commission also set up an independent authority, through an executive order of the Central Government, with the mandate of implementing the UID. UID aims at becoming the primary basis for efficient delivery of welfare schemes by converting itself into a statutory corporate body which would go by the name of the National Identification Authority (the “Authority”).
  1. Unique Identity Number is in addition to other identities and is issued to all the citizens from time to time like PAN Card, Passport, Ration Card, Driving License, BPL Cards, NREGA Card and similar cards issued by both State and Central Government. However, unlike these identities issued by the government to various citizens of India, the UID number is issued to every resident in India. It is stated that the said identity number is an option that a resident can choose to take as it would be easy to authenticate a person’s identity anywhere and thus is portable. The identity will be stored in a central database with individuals biometric and demographic data linked to a randomly generated unique number. The identity would be authenticated by querying the database. Thus, it may be seen that even a person possessing the UID or AAADHAAR card cannot authenticate his or her identity, but only those in charge of the UID database have the means and authority to authenticat the person’s identity. The 12 digit number would be assigned as UID to every resident would be integrated with biometric and demographic data of the person. Demographic data here means the details of the person that is his name, name of the father (only in case of a child below the age of five years), age, residential address, telephone number, email address, details of bank accounts.Biometric data is collection of digitized images of all the fingerprints and scanning of irises and image of the face. A copy of the application form is annexed hereto and marked as Exhibit B. Copy of the UID Strategy Overview dated April 2010 issued by Respondent No. 1 is annexed hereto and marked as Exhibit C. Copy of a detailedalternative note that critically explains the functioning of the UID titled “UID for Dummies” authored by Simi Chacko and Pratiksha Khanduri dated 12th September 2011, is attached hereto and marked as Exhibit C-1.
  1. The Petitioners submit that the twin proposals to create both a National Population Register by an amendment to the Citizenship Rules and UID, were brought into the purview of an empowered group of Ministers (EGoM) constituted on 4th December 2006. The recommendations of the EGoM for kickstarting the UID project are annexed hereto and marked as Exhibit D.
  1. Initially the UIDAI may be notified as an executive authority and investing it with statutory authority could be taken up for consideration later at an appropriate time.
    1. UIDAI may limit its activities to creation of the initial database from the electoral roll/EPIC data. UIDAI may however additionally issue instructions to agencies that undertake creation of databases to ensure standardization of data elements.
    2. UIDAI will take its own decision as to how to build the database.
    3. UIDAI would be anchored in the Planning Commission for five years after which a view would be taken as to where the UIDAI would be located within Government.
    4. Constitution of the UIDAI with a core team of 10 personnel at the central level and directed the Planning Commission to separately place a detailed proposal with the complete structure, rest of staff and organizational structure of UIDAI before the Cabinet Secretary for his consideration prior to seeking approval under normal procedure through the DoE/CCEA.
    5. Approval to the constitution of the State UIDAI Authorities simultaneously with the Central UIDAI with a core team of 3 personnel.
    6. December 2009 was given as the target date for UIDAI to be made available for usage by an initial set of authorized users.
    7. Prior to seeking approval for the complete organizational structure and full component of staff through DoE and CCEA as per existing procedure, the Cabinet Secretary should convene a meeting to finalize the detailed organizational structure, staff and other requirements.

Copy of the recommendations dated 04 November 2008 is annexed hereto and marked as Exhibit E.

  1. In pursuance of the recommendations of the Committee of Secretaries and the Empowered group of Ministers’ the Unique Identification Authority of India was constituted and notified by the Planning Commission on 28 January 2009 as an attached office under the aegis of Planning Commission with an initial core team of 115 officials. The role and responsibilities of the UIDAI was laid down in this notification. The UIDAI was given the responsibility to lay down plan and policies to implement UIDAI scheme and own and operate the UIDAI database and be responsible for its updation and maintenance on an ongoing basis. Copy of the Notification dated 28th January 2009 is annexed hereto and marked as Exhibit F. The said impugned Notification outlined the following tasks to be carried out under the UID banner:
    1. Generate and assign UID to residents
    2. Define mechanisms and processes for interlinking UID with partner databases on a continuous basis
    3. Frame policies and administrative procedures related to updation mechanism and maintenance of UID database on an ongoing basis
    4. Co-ordinate/liaise with implementation partners and user agencies as also define conflict resolution mechanisms
    5. Define usage and applicability of UID for delivery of various services
    6. Operate and manage all stages of UID lifecycle
    7. Adopt phased approach for implementation of UID specially with reference to approved timelines
    8. Take necessary steps to ensure collation of NPR with UID (as per approved strategy)
    9. Ensure ways for leveraging field level institutions appropriately such as PRIs in establishing linkages across partner agencies as well as its validation while cross linking with other designated agencies
    10. Evolve strategy for awareness and communication of UID and its usage
    11. Identify new partner/user agencies
  1. The Petitioner submits that subsequent to the notification the Government appointed Shri. Nandan M. Nilekani as Chairman of the Unique Identification Authority of India, in the rank and status of a Cabinet Minister for an initial tenure of five years. Mr. Nilekani has joined the UIDAI as its Chairman on 23 July 2009. Copy of the notification appointing Nandan M. Nilekani as chairman is annexed hereto and marked as Exhibit G.
  1. The Petitioner submits that although set up through an executive fiat, the UIDAI was always intended to be brought under the purview of a legislative scheme. In the meanwhile, an advisory council presided by the Prime Minister’s was set up on 30 July 2009. The Council is to advise the UIDAI on Programme, methodology and implementation to ensure co-ordination between Ministries/Departments, stakeholders and partners. Further, the activities of the UIDAI were to be supervised and monitored by a Cabinet Committee headed by the Honourable Prime Minister and consists of the Minister of Finance, Minister of Agriculture, Minister of Consumer Affairs, Food and Public Distribution, Minister of Home Affairs, Minister of External Affairs, Minister of Law and Justice, Minister of Communications and Information Technology, Minister of Labour and Employment, Minister of Human Resource Development, Minister of Rural Development and Panchayati Raj, Minister of Housing and Urban Poverty Alleviation and Minister of Tourism. The Deputy Chairman Planning Commission and Chairman UIDAI are special invitees.
  1. Thus it is clear that in its present form UIDAI is an executive body with no legislative authority intended at this juncture to create the systems for the long term universal implementation of UIDs pursuant to the enactment of a legislative scheme and an appropriate regulatory authority. The Petitioners submit that before the legislative scheme is enacted, the Parliament as a sovereign body, will scrutinize the “suspect” claims made by UID and the effectiveness, feasibility and constitutionality of its objectives. The Petitioners submit that the constitutionality of the UID as an executive scheme without any legislative backing is further suspect pursuant to the rejection of the NIDAI Draft Bill by the Standing Committee of the Parliament, for falling short of meeting minimum constitutional standards.
  1. The Petitioners submit that the eventual aim of the aaadhaar numbers scheme is to streamline the delivery of services to Indian residents and avoid corruption and misuse of public funds and subsidies. UIDAI claims that the UID will achieve the two following objectives:
    1. Revolution in public service delivery. By providing a clear proof of identity, Aaadhaar will empower poor and underprivileged residents in accessing services such as the formal banking system and give them the opportunity to easily avail various other services provided by the Government and the private sector. The centralised technology infrastructure of the UIDAI will enable ‘anytime, anywhere, anyhow’ authentication. Existing identity databases in India are fraught with problems of fraud and duplicate or ghost beneficiaries. To prevent these problems from seeping into the Aaadhaar database, the UIDAI plans to enrol residents into its database with proper verification of their demographic and biometric information. This will ensure that the data collected is clean from the beginning of the program. However, much of the poor and under-privileged population lack identity documents and Aaadhaar may be the first form of identification they will have access to.
    2. Overhaul internal security and assist the investigating agencies.
  1. To achieve its objective as stated above, UID has set out to undertake its main task that is of Data Collection, without the legislative passage of the NID Bill. The Petitioner submits that the creation of a national identity card or number requires the following activities:
      1. DATA COLLECTION: Information relating to the individual necessary for identification is collected and stored in a register under the supervision of a governmental authority. This may include different categories of sensitive, personal information about individuals from their health records, to bank transactions, to the number of times they may use public transport every week.
      1. DATA PROCESSING: The Authority either discloses or verifies the information in the register upon any requests regarding any individual permitted under any law; and
      2. DATA PROTECTION: The government is duty bound to protect such information.
      3. DATA DESTRUCTION: The government is duty bound to destroy such sensitive, personal information as is not absolutely needed for the functioning of a scheme of authentication of identity cards or numbers, and has been collected for that purpose, and should not be retained or used for any other purpose without the full informed consent of each and every enrollee.
  1. The main function of the Authority is to collect relevant personal details together with unique biometric information from the population and use this information as the basis for issuing unique identification numbers to the population. The unique numbers, which are referred to as aaadhaar numbers, are to be used as the basis of authentication of the identity of Indian residents seeking to avail certain services, either from the State or private parties. While authenticating the identity of a user, the proposed Authority only confirms or denies the authenticity of the number and its holder, i.e., by way of a simple ‘Yes’ or ‘No’ answer. The UIDAI has stated that the proposed authority does not propose to disclose, to a third party, any of the personal details it may have collected in order to issue the aaadhaar number. However, the Authority in a central database willstore details of all authentication requests received for a particular aaadhaar number. On analyzing these authentication requests it is possible to track the location and utilization of services by the holder of an aaadhaar number. This can create immense potential for misuse of information, leaking of personal information in the wrong hands. Apart from this, UID, in an open premise has committed itself to sharing all information collected by it with the National Intelligence Grid. Copy of a detailed scientific study by Paul Ohm titled “Broken Promises of Privacy: Responding to the surprising failure of Anonymisation” that illustrates how central identity databases facilitate the reverse audit trail of personal information is attached hereto and marked as Exhibit H.
  1. The UIDAI has conducted a so-called ‘proof of concept’ study that determined the expected rate of failure of biometric measurement as an identification method. The report is attached hereto and marked Exhibit I. An analysis of the reported figures reveals that the conclusions drawn in this report are insufficiently precise, and in fact, the incidence of so-called ‘false positives’ (persons incorrectly identified by the measuring system) will be impossibly high. A copy of this analysis by David Moss, a British engineer responsible for similar studies that showed the impossibility of the now-cancelled (at a loss of substantially over stg 800 million, approximating Rs 6,500 crores) UK ID cards system is attached as Exhibit J.
  1. The draft NIDAI Bill lays out a regulatory framework identifying the powers and responsibilities of the proposed Authority along with criminal sanctions for unauthorized disclosure of information collected by the Authority. However, the same are highly inadequate and fail to meet the minimum standards of safeguards necessary. In a legal atmosphere with no legislated right to privacy, the enforcement of weak criminal sanctions against any breach of privacy becomes difficult. Copy of the UIDAI Bill is annexed hereto and marked as Exhibit K. Copy of an article titled “A Unique Identity Bill” by Prof. Usha Ramanthan, a prominent advocate on the right to privacy in India, is annexed hereto and marked as Exhibit  L.
  1. The Petitioners submit that the UIDAI draft as it was tabled in the Parliament has been rejected by the Standing Committee by its report dated 13th December 2011, by the making the following observations:
    1. Lack of clarity
    2. Overlap between UID and NPR
    3. No statutory power to address key issues of defaulters and penalties
    4. Aadhaar will not completely eradicate the need to provide other documents for identification
    5. Estimated failure of biometrics is expected to be as high as 15% due to a large chunk of population being dependent on manual labour.
    6. It is also not clear that the UID scheme would continue beyond the coverage of 200 million of the total population, the mandate given to the UIDAI.
    7. Considering the huge database size and possibility of misuse of information has not been carefully considered.

Copy of the detailed report of the Standing Committee dated 13th December 2011 is annexed hereto and marked as Exhibit M.

    1. RIGHT TO PRIVACY
  1. The Petitioner submits that the proposal of data collection, storage and sharing as laid out above makes heavy inroads into the right to privacy and its constitutionality must be tested against the breach of the right of privacy itself enshrined under Article 21 and also for rationality and non-arbitrariness by examining the objective behind UID. The Petitioner submits that UIDAI attempts to undertake the task of collecting personal information for the entire Indian population, which constitutes a total of 1.2 billion people. The privacy implications of the same are numerous and as follows:
  1. Date Collection:
  1. Sub Registrar: UIDAI in order to expedite the collection of information has entered into MoUs with several agencies, be it Banks, Insurance Agents, other Government Departments to enrolls citizens for the UID card. Even though UIDAI , only allows for collection of non-sensitive personal information, through the decentralization and delegation of data collection, the Sub-Registrar has been provided with the freedom to ask for additional information. Thus, for example, every Aadhaar form has the option of linking your bank account with the Aadhaar number. The Petitioners submit that in many reported cases, the Banks acting as Sub-registrars, automatically link the bank accounts with the Aadhaar while registering new entrants. Some of the excessive information sought from sub-registrars includes:
    1. Resident’s name, his/her father’s name, his/her spouse’s name, names of his/her children, his/her age, residential address, his/her income, whether he/she owns any car? Whether he/she owns any scooter? Whether he/she owns any other vehicle? His/her telephone and cell phone numbers  both office and residence, his/her deposits, insurance policies, investments, the companies in which he/she has interest and other details;
    2. Similar details regarding spouse and children, linked with the Aadhaar number are collected. All these details are not collected under the Aadhaar form. However, all these particulars are mandated through the concept of ‘Know Your Customer’ from the banks by a RBI directive. When all these details of each resident is integrated, the state would be virtually accessing and intruding into the life each and every resident of India, through Dr. Usha Ramanathan’s argument on convergence of different silos of information.
  2. Excessive Delegation: By appointing several sub-registrars and empowering them with data collection and registration, sensitive personal information about citizens instead of going directly to the UIDAI data base also becomes available in a parallel format with the Sub-Registrar, who is not bound by any rules, regulations or legislative framework to protect. Copy of recent news report of theft and sale of enrolment data from private agencies in Punjab is annexed hereto and marked as Exhibit N.
  1. Data Storage in One Central Database: It further contemplates storage of that entire information in one central data base. The Respondents also claim that it will be safe.It is submitted that biometric and demographic information of 1.3+ billion residents of India mean 6 petabytes (6,000 terabytes or 6,000,000 gigabytes). It will be the world’slargest database. The technological challenges are enormous and involve system performance, reliability, speed and resolution of accuracy and errors. But a more serious issue is regarding the security. The information can be hacked. The Petitioners respectfully submit that hacking of data is not a theoretical fear, but a practical reality. The implications of this cannot be settled just through a Proof of Concept.
  1. Data Protection
    1. Audit Trail: According to UIDAI, when you enter into a transaction where you had to produce your ID card, the design of the system was such that a record would be kept of every such verification. It provides a detailed record of every transaction done, which can be of interest to either people browsing the database or to security services or whoever. UIDAI, argues that the record here is limited to verification and thus even if traced back to the source of service accessed, it remains harmless. However, the record here wouldn’t be just the verification of identity; there would be a little more data associated with the transaction. In a recent published interview, a scholar working on the conflict between privacy and National ID cards, cites the following apposite example:

“For example, you went to Health Clinic Number 45. They used your card and your fingerprint there for verification. They did this at 12:37 hours. There is a series of metadata associated with that visit that would be there in the audit trail. And, of course, it wouldn’t take very long to realise that, actually, Health Clinic Number 45 is a sexual health clinic. If the audit trail also shows that you were there on a number of occasions, it might be reasonable to infer certain kinds of things that you perhaps do not want to disclose. Some things are not necessary to be disclosed, but which are being recorded and stored in an accessible way to various people because of the way the system is designed.” A copy of the Edgar Whitley interview printed in Frontline is annexed hereto and marked as Exhibit O.

    1. Disclosure of Information: The potential of audit trail misuse is an important reality. In the present form UIDAI has no mechanisms for preventing the sharing of any information, or safeguards/penalities for leaks and misuse of verification records. The NID Bill, however contemplates misuse and hence provides the following framework:
      1. Cl. 33” Nothing contained in the sub-section (3) of section 30 shall apply in respect of – (a) any disclosure of information (including identity information or details of authentication) made pursuant to an order of a competent court; or (b) any disclosure of information (including identity information) made in the interests of national security in pursuance of a direction to that effect issued by an officer not below the rank of Joint Secretary or equivalent in the Central Government after obtaining approval of the Minister in charge.

Clause 33, is highly inadequate, as firstly it excludes information sought for nsecurity reasons from judicial scrutiny. This in itself is a recipe for grave misuse of private information. On the other hand court orders are not subject to the rule of audi alteram partem.

  1. Destruction of Data: The UIDAI has described its operational method for authentication of enrollees as requiring the person to present the number and biometric information (initially, fingerprints, up to ten; however it has been asserted from time to time that only two fingerprints will be necessary for authentication; in the absence of any trials of the system, such fine details are not known at present. The need for iris scans has also been expressed, however, the budget for recording iris scans has not been approved, nor have the present numbers of the population, said to be over 10 cr, had iris scans taken at the time of enrolling with UIDAI). The information will be matched with the information in UIDAI’s central database and a simple yes/no reply will be generated. No personal details of any kind can be sought from the database through this system. It is obvious that other personal details are only taken for the purpose of verifying the accuracy of the basic information ie matching the fingerprints with the person. It is not needed for the further functioning of the system, as claimed by UIDAI. It is therefore essential that the additional data collected be destroyed in order to protect citizens from any illegal access to the UIDAI database and subsequent misuse of that breach of privacy in any way whatsoever. UIDAI has not made any provisions at all for data destruction, although it is well known in technological circles that destruction of digital data is an expensive and tedious task.
  1. It is important to note that the Right to Privacy especially in the context of wrongful access to personal information about individuals and controlling excessive interference from the State into private lives of individuals, is well recognized in Indian law. It has been held that the Right to Privacy is an integral part of the Right to Life under Article 21.
  1. In Kharak Singh v. State of Uttar Pradesh1, a person with a criminal record, had challenged the constitutionality of certain police regulations which permitted surveillance of his house as also ‘domiciliary visits’ to his house at any time. In this case the petitioner had attempted to put forth the argument that the regulations in question violated his right to privacy which could be read into the fundamental right to life and liberty in Article 21 of the Constitution. The majority judgment of the Court however rejected this argument that Article 21 of the Constitution provided for a fundamental right to privacy. The minority judgment by Justice Subba Rao and Justice Shah however favoured a broader interpretation of the term ‘personal liberty’ in Article 21. In pertinent part, Justice Rao held that “It is true our Constitution does not expressly declare a right to privacy as a fundamental right, but the said right is an essential ingredient of personal liberty.”
  1. The debate over ‘privacy as a fundamental right’ cropped up once again in the case of Gobind v. State of Madhya Pradesh. The petitioner in this case had challenged certain police regulations on the grounds that the same had invaded the petitioner’s fundamental right to privacy. In this judgment a full bench of the Supreme Court was more willing to link the ‘right to privacy’ to the fundamental rights enshrined in Part III of the Constitution. The Court has held that the Right to Privacy clearly means one has a right to be left alone within one’s home.

“Rights and freedoms of citizens are set forth in the Constitution in order’ to guarantee that the individual, his personality and those things stamped with his personality shall be free from official interference except where a reasonable basis for intrusion exists. ‘Liberty against government” a phrase coined by Professor Corwin expresses this idea forcefully. In this sense, many of the fundamental rights of citizens can be described as contributing to the right to privacy.”

  1. The aforesaid quote is pertinent in understanding the kind of unfettered intrusion access UIDAI and the NID Bill allow into the State and many other private agencies into the personal lives of citizens of India, without any legislative procedures, safeguards and remedy. Thereafter, the right to privacy has been recognized in a number of judgments of this Court and of the  High Courts in a number of cases including PUCL v. Union of India (1997) 1 SCC 301, Sharda v. Dharampal (2003) 4 SCC 493, R. Rajgopal v. State of Tamil Nadu (1994) 6 SCC 632, Phoolan Devi v. Shekhar Kapur (57 (1995) DLT 154), Khushwant Singh v. Maneka Gandhi AIR 2002 Del 58.
  1. And more appositely, in the case of District Registrar and Collector, Hyderabad v. Canara Bank (2005) 1 SCC 632,  section 73 of the Andhra Pradesh Stamp Act was challenged. The impugned section required any public officer or any other person having in his custody records, registers, books, documents, the inspection of which may result in discovery of fraud or omission of duty, to allow any person authorized in writing by the collector to enter any premises to conduct an inspection of the same which may also be impounded by the person so authorized after due acknowledgement of the same.
  1. This provision was struck down by the High Court of Andhra Pradesh on the grounds that it was arbitrary and unreasonable and the same was upheld by the Supreme Court. In arriving at its conclusions the Court held that legislative intrusions into a person’s privacy “must be tested on the touchstone of reasonableness as guaranteed by the Constitution and for that purpose the Court can go into the proportionality of the intrusion vis-à-vis the purpose sought to be achieved.” In a later portion of the judgment the Court while harshly criticizing the lack of any procedural safeguards or mechanism in the impugned provision went on to cite its own precedent in the case of “Air Indiav. Nergesh Meerza & Ors., (1981) 4 SCC 335, where “it was held that a discretionary power may not necessarily be a discriminatory power but where a statute confers a power on an authority to decide matters of moment without laying down any guidelines or principles or norms, the power has to be struck down as being violative of Article 14.”
    1. Rational Nexus between UID and the Policy Objective\
  1. The Petitioners submit that the UIDAI has made statements in public that through a study titled, ‘PROOF OF CONCEPT’ they have developed a full proof method and with minimal error margin. The Petitioners submit that the purpose of any feasibilithy study must be to conclusively established that the objectives sought to be achieved will be accomplished through the exercise, especially when a vast amount of public money is at stake.
  1. Thus, in the case of the UID project, where the objectives, according to the statements of the Respondents, are to ensure welfare benefits reach the intended beneficiaries, it would be necessary for the PoC exercise to show how beneficiaries would receive these benefits. This means, that the study would involve, not merely the collection of fingerprint data, but the use of the data to authenticate the BPL beneficiaries who come to collect PDS rations from designated shops and their receiving the goods over a reasonable period of time through the process envisaged in the project. Thus in a nutshell a feasibility study should not be a theoretical, imaginative exercise like the POC, but something that is tested in practice over a period of time.
  1. The Petitioner submits that the primary purpose of UIDAI is said to be to improve the welfare system in the country by eradicating identity theft through duplication of identity. Thus non-duplication has been championed as both the solution for fixing the old Public Distribution System, and UID as the “unique” method of achieving it.
  1. The Petitioners submit the foremost assumption in the aforesaid is that due to lack of identity the poor do not receive government welfare benefits. Secondly, the Respondents assume that fake and duplicate identities are the causes for leakage (that is siphoning) of welfare funds. Both these are unproven assumptions. They are not based on any study or investigation. Several studies have increasingly shown that the PDS system is actually improving, and that by introducing an untested new Aadhaar, universally and across the board in a rushed manner, may actually end up excluding a lot of intended beneficiaries. Copies of detailed reports, analysis and studies conducted on the efficacy of UIDAI to address welfare distribution issues conducted and written by Prof. Reetika Khera are annexed hereto and marked collectively as Exhibit P.
  1. UIDAI argues that through the combination of name, photograph, fingerprinting and iris scans they can create an irrefutable identity that is linked to the person itself, and does not require any external proof – like ration cards or passports for identification. The person herself is the identifier through fingerprinting and iris scans.
  1. However, there are many problems with this proposition. Firstly, a data base of this scale of 1.2 billion people’s finger prints and iris scans has never been created. Thus the entire proposition for a population base such as India is completely untested and unproven. Quoting an analogy that criticizes the similar UK ID Cards’ non-duplication strategy which was entirely scrapped:

There were far better performance results on a 1:1 match. So, this is Edgar’s fingerprint on the database, here is Edgar, we do 1:1 match; this is more likely to work. But that was not how the U.K. was planning to use it. The U.K. was trying to use biometrics to also prevent duplicate identities. The idea was that even if I try to enrol twice, and even if I had created a fake biographic identity (say, a John Smith with a different address), when my fingerprint came in for a second time, the system should come along and say: “We know this fingerprint, and this belongs to Edgar Whitley” and not say, John Smith. Here, you have to match every single biometric with every single previous biometric.”

  1. Thus biometrics requires not just matching a fingerprint with its true origin, but also with others to avoid non-duplication. Apart from this exercise, the very reliability of finger prints in India is not 100 percent. An assessment report filed by 4G Solutions, contracted by UIDAI to supply biometric devices, notes:

“It is estimated that approximately five per cent of any population has unreadable fingerprints, either due to scars or aging or illegible prints. In the Indian environment, experience has shown that the failure to enrol is as high as 15 per cent due to the prevalence of a huge population dependent on manual labour.”
Copy of the 4G Solutions Report is annexed hereto and marked as Exhibit Q.

  1. The report of the UIDAI’s “Biometrics Standards Committee” actually accepts these concerns as real. Its report, notes that “fingerprint quality, the most important variable for determining de-duplication accuracy, has not been studied in depth in the Indian context.” Thus, the very premise of UIDAI is not something that has scientific backing.This consideration has formed an important basis behind the decision of the Standing Committee rejecting the UIDIA bill and scheme as it presently stands. Copy of the Biometrics Standards Committee report commissioned by the UIDAI is annexed hereto and marked as Exhibit R.
    1. Mandatory and Coercive
  1. The Petitioners submit that one of the biggest illegalities being committed under the Aadhaar scheme is by making it mandatory through coercive conditions. UID has always, repeatedly stated that Aadhaar is a voluntary scheme. Thus, enrolment for Aadhaar is a voluntary act. The NIAI draft Bill, which seeks to legitimatize the functioning of the first Respondent, is so worded to establish that Aadhaar is optional and not compulsory. However, in its premature implementation, in practice the scheme is gradually being made non-voluntary and mandatory. This is made worse by adoption of coercive pre-conditions by different government departments.
  1. A recent gazette notification dated 26 Sep 2011, of the Petroleum Ministry has made Aadhaar a mandatory condition for LPG users. Copy of the news report announcing the change in policy is annexed hereto and marked as Exhibit R.
  2. Government of Maharashtra through its GR dated April 2011, plans to make Aadhaar a compulsory requirement for government employees for accessing their salary benefits. Copy of the aforesaid circular is annexed hereto and marked as Exhibit S.
  1. The Petitioners submit that the enrollment for Aadhaar is working on an extremely fast pace that it has become impossible to avoid attempts at enrolment. The Petitioners submit that such mandatory, non-voluntary and coercive enrolment for Aadhaar is an affront to their to personal integrity, right to make decisions about themselves and the right to dignity all enshrined and developed as indivisible elements of the Right to Life under Article 21 of the Constitution.
  1. The Petitioners submit that by insisting on a mandatory requirement and making access to every service contingent upon Aadhaar, the Respondents are creating a class of excluded non-Aadhaar holders who will be left out of welfare schemes, because they have consciously chosen to not enroll in an untested, premature and at present completely unreliable scheme.
  1. The Petitioners submit that Aadhaar must be enacted not only under the supervision and protection of a strict national privacy law, but even in its implementation it must only be brought in through a phased manner, and not the sudden immediate implementation as at present.

GROUNDS

  1. The UIDAI-Aadhaar scheme as it presently stands as a mere executive fiat, is illegal, arbitrary and unconstitutional by granting wide, unrestricted powers to an unaccountable independent body knows as UIDAI, and also to private agencies; leading to huge breaches on the right to privacy and dignity of Indian citizens;
  2. The co-extensive executive power exercised to implement UIDAI cannot be untrammeled and function towards restricting fundamental rights without any due procedure, guidelines and safety mechanism, which can only be ensured through a statutory framework;
  3. The Hon’ble Supreme Court has repeatedly held that executive power cannot be used to restrict fundamental rights;
  4. The mandatory enforcement UIDAI-Aadhaar scheme contravenes Article 21 by restricting the right to decision making, personal integrity, choice and dignity;
  5. The impugned notification dated 4th November 2008 is illegal, arbitrary and bad in law for setting out an extensive task of launching UID way beyond the executive competence, without any guidelines, rules and procedure;
  6. The aforesaid impugned notification is illegal, arbitrary and unconstitutional and in breach and contravention of Article 14 for assigning the most essential function of data collection via enrollment for Aadhaar to private agencies;
  7. The aforesaid notification is further illegal as it delegates excessive powers with the UIDAI without any guidelines or procedure, leading to further unrestricted delegation of powers to private parties creating great potential for data leakages, and breaches of sensitive private data leading to Indian Citizens;
  8. Cross-referencing service usage of a particular individual through a single numeric bio-metric identity has huge implications for building State  inroads into every private activity and service accessed by that individual, this is further complicated by the possibility of private actors also accessing similar information. This convergence of silos of information will completely abolish the veneer of privacy that protects the daily lives of individuals.
  9. The Hon’ble Supreme Court of India has repeatedly upheld the right to privacy within the right to life in Article 21, and any restriction must be justified through a rational and reasonable statutory procedure. UIDAI, as it presently stands is prima facie unconstitutional for contravening the right to privacy without providing any safeguards, procedures and guidelines
  10. The UIDAI is further frought and arbitrary for failing to provide a rational nexus between means adopted of obtaining sensitive personal information in a central database through private, or public-private partnerships for verification purposes in a central database and the ultimate objective of improving public welfare; wherein the whole premise is based on non-duplication of identity through biometrics, which still remains unproven.
  11. The aforesaid impugned scheme is further in breach of right to dignity and personal autonomy enshrined under Article 21, by making the Aadhaar mandatory, thereby forcing people to submit themselves to an unreliable, untested, premature scheme which has no statutory standing and compromises their personal lives.

PRAYERS

  1. For a Writ of Certiorari or any writ, order, direction in the nature of certiorari or any other appropriate writ, order of direction quashing the notification dated 29th January 2008 annexed at Exhibit F;
  2. For a writ of Prohibition or a writ, order or direction in the nature of prohibition or any other appropriate write, order of direction restraining the Respondents from taking any further steps of any nature whatsoever in relation to UID;
  3. Till the final hearing and pendency of this Public Interest Litigation, this Hon’ble Court may be pleased to stay the operation of the impugned dated 29th January 2008 annexed at Exhibit F;
  4. Till the final hearing and pendency of this Public Interest Litigation, this Hon’ble Court may be pleased to restrain the Respondents from taking any further steps of any nature whatsoever in relation to UID;
  5. For ad interim relief in terms of prayers C and D;
  6. For any other orders that this Hon’ble Court may deem fit;

VERIFICATION

1  AIR 1963 SC 1295  at para 18

Journalist Naveen Soorinje granted bail #goodnews


His arrest had raised many important questions about the violation of democratic rights and media freedom in India
Tehelka Bureau

March 18, 2013

Naveen Soorinje. Tehelka photo

Naveen Soorinje, the private Kannada channel reporter who was arrested for exposing an assault on women by Hindu extremists in Mangalore has finally received bail after four months. Justice Sreedhar Rao of the Karnataka High Court granted the bail after a surety and a bond of Rs 5 lakh. Naveen is likely to be released either today or tomorrow after the order copy is received and signed. “Finally justice has been done after four months. I hope the freedom of the press will not be muzzled any longer by the present government and the local police in Mangalore will not resort to harassing those media persons who exposed the issue,” his lawyer Nitin R said.

“We are very happy with the news and want to congratulate and thank all the people who rallied around him in support,” his brother Prem Soorinje said.

On 7 November, Soorinje was arrested by the Mangalore Police who lumped him along with the Hindu Jagaran Vedike group who groped and attacked the boys and girls celebrating a birthday at a homestay in Mangalore on July 28, 2012. Since he and his cameraman had caught the men chasing, slapping, and groping teenaged women, the arrest made this one of the most bizarre examples of shooting the messenger. The 43 attackers who were charged in the case were identified on the basis of Soorinje’s footage. TEHELKA had raised many important questions after his arrest and the violation of democratic rights and media freedom.

 

PRESS RELEASE- Mr Naveen Patnaik apologize to the Women of Govindpur, Patana and Dhinkia #Posco #Vaw


Mr. Naveen Patnaik we are surprised that you are not ashamed even after women’s day.

Dear Mr. Naveen Patnaik,

We are deeply anguished and disturbed by the recent turn of frightening and ugly incidents perpetrated by the Odisha government, POSCO management and their hired lumpen criminal elements on the POSCO payroll. They have unleashed extremely barbaric white terror in the anti-POSCO struggling villages of Jaghat Singh Pur, Odisha. On the eve of the women’s day we learnt that the women gave the most desperate threat to the district administration as a last ditch effort. “If the police forces are not withdrawn they will protest naked in front of the police”. This news sent a chill down our spines as this was a confirmation of your wanton behaviour in the area and continuing attempts at escalating completely unjustified violence against agitators.

You have proved that you are the biggest enemy of the women of Odisha. Instead of removing the police you charged women with indecent exposure and arrested them.

That shows the apocalyptic vision that women are the most worthless beings, have absolutely no hope in a state governed by you. And remember, all this was happening when your minions of women and child development department and the public relations department were flooding the newspapers and television with your great achievements on the gender front. Whereas in reality you have inflicted on the suffering women of Odisha extreme repression by security forces who rape them in custody, brutally repress them, forcibly evict them from land, habitat, livelihood, culture and undermine their dignity. The combing operations by your police and paramilitary forces have inflicted most bestial violence that has crossed all the limits of barbarism.

Last time one had seen such a protest taking place was in Manipur in July 2004. The situation, however, was a little different in that case. Assam Rifles had raped and murdered Manorama. Elderly women of Manipur aghast at that had decided for going that protest in sheer desperation. They were a people who had completely lost their faith in the nation that claimed to be their own but acted as an occupying force. Its security forces assaulted the men and raped the women at will and the state legitimised such dreadful practices by allowing the Assam Rifles deployed in Manipur to provide condoms as an integral part of the travel kit,to be used while on patrol duty. Having had enough of this, Manipuri women went to the headquarters of the Assam Rifles, disrobed and flung a banner reading “INDIAN ARMY RAPE US”.

Odisha is thousands of kilometers away from Manipur. The POSCO Pratirodh Sangram Samiti (PPSS) simply announced “Left with no other option, women from the village have decided to get naked before the Policemen tomorrow”. The pain and agony it would take to first decide for holding such a protest and then announcing it to the public was totally lost on you.

The women reached this decision because you as the Chief Minister have abandoned them for POSCO, the multinational company and as its lackey have been violating all rights of the residents with impunity. Anti-POSCO people have reached the decision after getting many of their near and dear ones killed by the hired goons of the company. They have reached the decision for the state government repeatedly sending in an armed-to-teeth police force for cracking down on the peaceful protesters and forcibly acquiring the lands even when the environmental clearance that is mandatory for such projects stand cancelled by the statutory authorities and the MoU with POSCO is defunct. You have destroyed their betel leave vines. You threaten to arrest them if they step out of the village and for years they have lived without even the minimal health services.

Mr. Patnaik,  your slavery and loyalty to the national and international corporations has made you so de-humanized and de-sensitized that you are busy serving their interest and are apathetic to the very people who have brought you into this office.

Your administration lies through its teeth and accuses anti-POSCO struggle of making bombs. Your police tries to run over their leader. Such is the rottenness of your rule that even fact finding teams are hounded by company goons who are getting more confident as they are literally getting away with murder.

Finally, if you have any shame left, Mr. Patnaik, resign and apologise to the women of Dhinkia, Govindpur and Patana.

We speak on behalf of several women’s groups and well known activists who endorse our view. The complete list is attached to this letter.

Kaveri,  Kamayani, Kalpana

For Women against sexual violence and state repression

More than 100 people signed the letter sent to the CM endorsements Below

1
Asit Das-  Posco pratirodh solidarity Delhi
Kalpana Mehta, Madhya Pradesh Mahila Manch, Indore
Kaveri Indira, Scientist, Bangalore
Kamayani Bali Mahabal, Human Rights Activist , Mumbai
Mamata Dash ,Posco pratirodh solidarity Delhi
Chittraranjan singh National Secretary PUCL
Ashok choudhury NFFPFW
Dr.Sunilam Kissan Sangharsh Samiti
10  Kiran Shaheen Women against sexual violence and state expression(WSS)
11  Anand swarup verma Editor samkaleen tisri duniya
12  Prashant Pairikay, Posco pratirodh sangharsh samiti
13  K.K. Niyogi All India platform for labour rights
14  Manj mohan Hind mazdoor sabha
15  Roma NFFPFW
16  Anil chaudhury INSAF
17  Insha malik Research sholar JNU
18  Bhupen singh Research sholar JNU
19  Vijay pratap Socialist front
20  Madhuresh NAPM
21  Rajendra Ravi NAPM
22  Anna khandre Samajwadi party
23  Putul Yuva bharat
24  P.K. sundaram IndiaResists.com
25  Prakash kumar ray Editorbargad.org
26  Nayanjyoti Krantikari naujawan sabha
27  Vinod singh Samajwadi jan parishad
28  Rakhi Saiigal Labour activist
29  Gopal Krishna Toxic Watch
30  Shankar Gopalakrishnan
31  Saheli, Delhi
32  Devika Biswas, State convenor
33  Healthwatch Forum , Bihar, C/O BVHA PATNA BIHAR
34  Ruchi Shroff , Mumbai
35  Madhumita Dutta
36  ‘Suresh Bhat B, Concerned Citizen, Mangalore
37  Sudha Bharadwaj, Chhattisgarh PUCL.
38  Rakmakant Banjare, Chattisgarh Mukti Morcha (Mazdoor Karyakarta Committee)
39  Nisha Biswas , Kolkata
40  Swatija, Mumbai
41  ‘Prabhakar Pandit from Mumbai Mobile Creches_
42  Rahul Yogi Deveshwar
43  Independent Voice , Shanti se Kranti
44  Nirja Bhatnagar, Mumbai
45  Himadri Sekhar Mistri, Research Scholar, Delhi School of Economics
46  Women’s Research and Action Group
47  Tanushree Gangopadhyay, Ahmedabad
48  Anjali sinha  Madhubala from Stree mukti sangathan
49  Madhubala, from Stree mukti sangathan
50  Sankara Narayanan_
51  Sharanya Humane, Koraput
52  Rakesh Narayana, PUCL – Bangalore
53  Kaushiki Rao, Bangalore
54  K. Sajaya, Hyderabad
55  Uma V Chandru, WSS Activist, Bangalore
56  Aruna Chandrasekhar, Research and journalist
57  Shraddha Chickerur
58  Vivek Sundara, Socila Activist, Mumbai
59  Pushpa (Member, WSS-Karnataka)
60  Abha Bhaiya
61  Anuradha Pati
62  Kannamma Raman, University of Mumbai
63  Jeevika Shiv, Centre for Equity Studies, Delhi
64  Kabi S., Bombay
65  Devaki Jain
66  Rina Mukherji
67  Soma KP
68  Aanchal Kapur
69  Trupti Shah, Sahiyar (Stree Sangathan)
70  K. Sajaya, Hyderabad
71  Iqbal Baig
72  Sudha.S. Bangalore
73  Sadhna, Delhi
74  Ratna, Law Student, Bangalore
75  Evangeline Anderson-Rajkumar, Bangalore
76  M. R. Prabhakar, Bangalore
77  Nisha Biswas, Kolkata
78  Gowru Chinnapa, Bangalore
79  Ayush Ranka, Bangalore
80  Rakesh Narayana, PUCL – Bangalore
81  Sharanya, Humane, Koraput
82  Shakun.M, Bangalore
83  Soundarya Iyer, Research Scholar, NIAS, Bangalore
84  Sudha Bharadwaj, Chhattisgarh PUCL.
85  Rakmakant Banjare, Chattisgarh Mukti Morcha (Mazdoor Karyakarta Committee)
86  Vasanth Kannabiran
87  Shyama K Narang
88  Anupriya, Delhi
89  Chhaya Datar
90  K. Lalita
91  Neha Dhingra
92  Rina, Kolkata
93  Sutapa Majumdar
94  Lalita Ramdas, Bhaimala, Alibag
95  Admiral L. Ramdas, Bhaimala, Alibag
96  Vinay Bhat, Management Consultant, Santa Clara, CA
97  Gopika Solanki
98  Uma Chakravarti
99  Mary E John
100  Suneeta Dhar
101  Arundhati Dhuru
102  Dr Veena R Poonacha, Director, Research Center for Women’s Studies & Project Director, Dr. Avabai Wadia Archives, SNDT Women’s University
103  Sharmila Rege
104  Veena Shatrugna
105  Gabriele Dietrich
106  Devangana Kalita
107  Tungshang Ningreichon, Naga Peoples Movement for Human Rights
108  Meera, Narmada Valley
109  Prem Verma, Jharkhand Alternative Development Forum, Ranchi, Jharkhand
110  Lakshmi Premkumar, Programme for Social Action (PSA), New Delhi
111  Priyanka Borpujari, independent journalist
112  Koyel Lahiri, MPhil student, CSSSC
113  K Babu Rao, NAPM, Hyderabad
114  Lokesh, Stree Mukti Sangathan
115  Gee Ameena Suleiman
116  Maitreyi, ALF, Bangalore
117  Prafulla Samantara, Convenor, NAPM
118  Kunal Rawat, New Delhi
119  Prasad Chacko, Social activist, Ahmedabad
120  Alaka Basu
121  Anita Ghai, Feminist and Disblity rights activist, Delhi
122  Parth J Dave, St. Xavier’s College, Mumbai
123  Pradeep Esteves, Context India, Bangalore
124  Nitesh Mohanty, The Root Mumbai
125 Jayati Lal, Visiting fellow, CSSS, JNU

 

Why Japan sticks to its nukes, totally applicable to India as well !


ANALYSIS: A clear majority of Japanese people (73 percent, according to a recent poll) opposes the country’s use of nuclear power. But politically, that sentiment has not changed anything.

By Chico Harlan

The Washington Post

Two years after the meltdowns at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant, a clear majority of Japanese people (73 percent, according to a recent Yomiuri Shimbun poll) opposes the country’s use of nuclear power.

But, politically, that sentiment has so far proven more negligible than powerful. No Japanese politician yet has capitalized on the anti-nuclear sentiment. And just last December, in the first major election since the Fukushima crisis, Japanese voters returned to power the Liberal Democratic Party, a traditional pro-nuclear group that had largely engineered the nation’s atomic reliance.

There are several reasons why the anti-nuke group punches below its weight, some interrelated. But here’s a list of the top factors:

1. Voters still care most about the economy.

When an economy is foundering, it’s almost always the top election issue — no matter what else is going on. An Asahi poll showed that 48 percent of voters in Japan put the economy as their number one concern for the December 2012 elections, well ahead of issues like energy and security. The LDP won in part because of a relatively fresh plan (of monetary easing and fiscal stimulus) to tackle a two-decade period of deflation.

For the anti-nuke crowd, voter emphasis on the economy is especially challenging, because growth is at odds with a phaseout, according to economic data from four separate institutes used by the government. Those institutes tried to model scenarios where, one, Japan in 2030 relied on nuclear power for 25 percent of its energy and, two, Japan in 2030 was nuclear free. The economy of a nuclear-reliant Japan will be somewhere between 1 to 3.5 percent larger than that of a non-nuclear Japan, the institutes said.

2. The pro-nuclear crowd remains powerful.

The group that supports nuclear power in Japan is significant — and hard for any politician to overlook. It includes energy companies that operate plants; reactor manufacturers such as Toshiba and Mitsubishi; corporations that view nuclear power as an essential cheap source for their domestic factories; banks that hold loans from utility companies; and media outlets that depend on any of the above for advertising.

3. Anti-nuclear factions are fighting among themselves.

Those who oppose nuclear power don’t always consider themselves on the same page. Some want Japan to quit cold turkey. Others prefer a gradual phaseout, where reactors are used as a stopgap until Japan can find alternatives. This difference in opinions has made it hard for politicians to win over the entire crowd at once.

“So it’s difficult for the anti-nuclear group to unite and have a voice,” said Yukio Edano, who served as a cabinet member during the crisis and the energy minister shortly after. This stands in contrast to the pro-nuclear crowd, Edano noted, which has proved politically cohesive.

4. The right politician hasn’t yet come along.

Naoto Kan tried to lead Japan out of the nuclear-power business — but by the time he did, he was already deeply unpopular and had pledged to eventually step down as prime minister.

In the run-up to the 2012 Lower House election, several anti-nuclear parties popped up, but they were either poorly financed, disorganized, or simply ill-conceived. The Tomorrow Party of Japan, for instance, laid out a plan to decommission all reactors (over 10 years) just two weeks before the election. Trying to broaden its support, the party joined hands with a divisive pork-barrel politician, Ichiro Ozawa, who along with his supporters then bolted again after the election. That left the Tomorrow Party with one Diet seat

http://seattletimes.com/html/nationworld/2020569901_japannuclearxml.html?syndication=rss

 

India-born football fan assaulted in UK racist attack before 200 onlookers


PTI | Mar 17, 2013,

India-born football fan assaulted in UK racist attack before 200 onlookers
In the CCTV footage showed at the police station, the passengers were seen jumping up to get a better view of the attack on Prakash Patel in the tram.
LONDON: A 56-year-old India-born football fan was beaten up badly by seven men and punched in the face and head more than 18 times on a packed tram in UK, as 200 onlookers did nothing to save him from the racist attackers.Prakash Patel, a bank officer, was travelling home alongwith his 21-year-old daughterDevyani Patel after watching a football match when he was beaten up, leaving him with black eyes and concussion, local media reported on Sunday.

“The tram carriage was so full of people that the battered bank worker stayed upright after he was knocked out. Yet only his distraught daughter Devyani tried to push the attackers away from her father,” the Mirror reported.

“I thought my dad was going to die. I was trying to pull these men off him, but no one intervened. It’s disgusting, nobody did anything,” Devyani said, adding she felt as if she was in a TV drama as passengers pushed forward to get a better view in Stretford, Greater Manchester.

Prakash, a Manchester United fan, was left with black eyes, a swollen face and concussion.

“These men came on and started making indecent racist comments … Myself and my daughter felt distressed about it so I said ‘please behave’ and that’s when it started,” he said.

“They were hitting me in the face, the eyes, the head … There must have been more than 200 people just in our carriage but nobody did anything or said anything. They all just stood and watched us,” Prakash was quoted as saying by the Mirror.

Devyani, an estate agent who lives with her parents in New Moston, took her dad to hospital where he was treated for concussion and given a scan.

“We are big United fans and have been going to Old Trafford for 25 years and never had any trouble … But I will only ever watch Manchester United in a box now. Never again will I sit in the stands,” Prakash added.

In the CCTV footage showed at the police station, the passengers were seen jumping up to get a better view of the attack on him in the tram.

Greater Manchester Police are appealing for witnesses to the attack, which happened after the United versus Fulham match on January 26.

 

#DelhiGangRape – Defeating Justice


 

JUSTICE  | 17 MARCH 2013  |  Gautam Patel 

Allowing, even by inaction or inattention, the death of one of the accused in the Delhi gang-rape case is an assault on the justice system.

Ram Singh Suicide :: Unanswered questions<br />Image courtesy Times of India

Ram Singh Suicide

Unanswered questions
Image courtesy Times of India

Ram Singh, the prime accused in last December’s ghastly gang-rape in New Delhi, is said to have hanged himself from a ventilation grill in his cell in Tihar Jail. The officials call it suicide, but the improbabilities are impossible to ignore. There were other inmates in the cell. None, it is claimed, heard or saw anything. There was a guard on duty outside the cell, which has a grilled door through which the entire cell is visible. The guard saw nothing though, in the normal course, he’d have walked past this cell at least five times between the time Ram Singh was last seen alive and when he was found dead. The ventilation grill from which Ram Singh is said to have hanged himself is much higher than he could have reached, given his height. He had an injured right arm. There are far too many questions here. None lend themselves to a satisfactory answer.

For a day, and just for a day, before it was eclipsed by matters of greater import to the people who seem to be able to decide these things for us, the news occupied our television news channels and the front pages of our dailies. Reactions varied, but the most appalling were the ones in tweets and mails running along the television tickers, that claimed that ‘justice has been served’, that ‘there’s one rapist less’, that he got what he deserved.

What happened in Delhi last December was horrifying beyond imagination. It should never have happened, and that it did happen, and in the way it did, and the public responses that followed should have been sufficient indicator of what is now at stake for all of us. The incident was the immediate trigger for a long overdue look at overhauling the criminal justice system. A sterling report came through in record time. Reading the report, there is little doubt that three jurists on the committee and their team were all impassioned and determined to see justice done, to help set in place a more balanced and just system. One might cavil at some recommendations and argue even that the Committee paid insufficient attention to cases of false complaints and made no provision for these; but that this was a major step in righting a historical wrong that is perpetuated daily cannot be denied. The government too, acted with uncommon despatch in introducing a Parliamentary bill, whatever its merits or demerits.

These are institutional responses, and institutions have a sense — sometimes perhaps not as acute as it should be — of gauging what needs doing and when. Institutional urgency is not, of itself, always populist. Responding with alacrity to a grotesque situation that cries out for reform is not populist if that response does not pander to a public thirst for revenge and proposes, instead, to correct systemic imbalances; speed does not always imply thoughtlessness, and to dismiss the government’s bill only on that basis is naïve.

Indeed, the institutional responses have been very different from those on social networks and in the media. These show a growing societal impatience with our justice system that is as frightening as it is dangerous. People only talk of the judicial system’s delays and moribund procedures, never of the things it does achieve in the face of inhuman workloads and abysmal manpower (on which more on another day). Slavery may have been abolished in law but it seems to be alive and kicking in the judiciary, the only difference being that in the judiciary you actually volunteer for slave duty.

By definition, a lynching is an extrajudicial execution (usually by hanging); bypassing the justice delivery system to get to an immediate result that satisfies the mob.1 A popular response to extreme situations or incidents — a response that should cause great worry — suggests that all we need to do to achieve ‘justice’ is to get to a predetermined result, and not worry too much about the route there. Getting to the what without minding thehow is nothing but a lynch-mob mentality, and it is now the defining trait of those of a certain stripe. The class has different forms. Social media is the natural habitant of one such form, also identifiable by its incapacity for anything but the most bovine thought, its persistence in substituting personal invective for argument, its inability to tell reaction from reason, protest placards from profundities. Given its additional inability to go much beyond 140 characters of what masquerades as thought and discourse, this type is, while irritating, generally harmless. Public outpourings of rage and grief are understandable — it is very difficult to resist the temptation of countering a monumental tragedy and horror by doing something equally barbaric.

Far more dangerous and insidious is the second type, the one that comes at us night after night on prime time television news broadcasts, hectoring, inquisitorial and judgmental. An anchor much given to screaming the most mundane headlines (and even the day of the week), once said in another context that his channel had “irrefutable documentary proof” of somebody’s guilt or culpability. Did he? What he had were some pieces of paper. Did these constitute proof in law? Were those pieces of paper admissible? Were they even relevant (yet another legal test)? Is there one kind of “proof” for 9 pm television and another kind for law? Without any of this being examined, somebody or the other was pronounced, at least by necessary implication, guilty. There remained only the question of the sentence, the trivial stuff that can well be left to judges after the serious grunt work has been done and dusted on national television. Why go to court when you can just turn on your TV set?

There is something about this medium that fertilizes imbecility. Another famous TV show host with claims to a long pedigree and a foreign degree once asked one of India’s most pre-eminent criminal lawyers how he could justify representing someone he knew to be guilty. The lawyer’s response was epic. I am not a court, he said, and neither are you. Guilt or innocence is for courts to decide, not me, and certainly not you. The host did not seem to be able to wrap his head around something this basic, his foreign degree notwithstanding. The perils of television mob-rule should be apparent; in this forum, where there are no rules and no standards, or are just made up as we go along, anyone could be found guilty of anything. Aayushi Talwar’s parents have been adjudicated guilty of her murder. Why are we bothering with a trial?

Indian society is no stranger to the kangaroo court culture. Mobsters do it, deciding matters of unrepaid loans and property boundaries. Local village councils dispense their own perverted forms of justice to uphold ‘honour’. Policemen attempt to mediate and arbitrate civil disputes. Community leaders are often called on, by popular demand, to decide these matters. In many cases, these ad-hoc kaazi are forums of choice, not compulsion: they are quick, they are accessible, and it matters little that the person deciding these issues has no background in law but is trusted to do what is just, fair and right. That, really, seems to be the key: a matter of trust. It is reasonable to expect newspersons to know better and to do better. When news stations turn themselves into glorified kangaroo courts — j’accuse seems to be the only guiding rationale — and are accuser, judge and jury all rolled into one, what we are being told is simply this: that our judicial system is useless, that the third limb of democractic governance has failed all of us, and that it is therefore now up to the Fourth Estate to don the mantle. This is, of course, self-serving, rank nonsense. Our embattled judiciary has monumental arrears, not because there are only historical cases, but because each day of each year more and more litigants choose to come to court. How this can be said to be an indicator of a loss of confidence in courts, or justify the extra-judicial antics of prime-television, is an enduring mystery.

This is where the trial of Ajmal Kasab redounds to the credit of the judiciary. Here was classic fodder for a lynch-mob. The institutions stood firm. Kasab was given a trial. There are those will say it was unfair, but that is inaccurate. The trial court’s handling of the matter was not just text-book — it is the text book.2 There was no fudging of evidence, no slurring over of inconveniences or the facts, no distortion of the law, no delay. It is impossible to say that justice was not served or done or that, in the face of the atrocity that was 26/11, a day on which so many of us lost friends and colleagues, and when a shorter route to harsher punishment might even have been excusable, the judicial system did not provide ample reason for a re-affirmation of our faith in it.

There is far more at stake in the Delhi gang-rape case than the fate of individuals. Can our system respond in an appropriate and just manner to such cases? What must we do to ensure the safety of our citizens, and what form should the remedies we must provide take? What is the value of a particular form of punishment?

And most of all, this: that the measure of any just society is not how quickly it deals out an extreme punishment, but how evenly it deals with those who stand accused of the most heinous crimes. This is a collective trial of our society. Allowing, even by inaction, one of the accused to be killed like this robs us all of a chance at redemption.

source-  http://www.prisonerofagenda.com

 

 

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