#India- Open letter- refusal of pension if not enrolled in #Aadhar #UID #humanrights #mustread


BY SPEED POST

January 28, 2013

From:

Maj Gen S.G.Vombatkere, VSM (Retd)

475, 7th Main Road

Vijayanagar 1st Stage

Mysore-570017

Tel:0821-2515187; E-mail:<sg9kere@live.com>

OPEN LETTER

Advance copy by E-mail

To:

The President of India <presidentofindia@rb.nic.in>; <pstopresident@rb.nic.in>

Rashtrapati Bhavan, New Delhi-110001.

The Prime Minister of India <pmosb@pmo.nic.in>; <pmindia@pmindia.nic.in>

7 Race Course Road, New Delhi-110001.

The Governor of Karnataka <rbblr@vsnl.com>

Raj Bhavan, Bangalore-560001.

The Chief Minister of Karnataka <cm@kar.nic.in>

Vidhana Soudha, Bangalore-560001.

Subject: ENROLMENT IN THE UID AADHAAR SCHEME

Respected Sirs,

1. The cause for this letter

1.1 I am a pensioner, having retired in 1996, living in Mysore, Karnataka. Mysore is one of the districts chosen for the first phase of implementation of the UID Aadhaar project, under which, according to Deccan Herald, Bangalore, newspaper dated September 24, 2012, UIDAI claims that about 95% of the population has enrolled into the scheme. The same newspaper report states that “the Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Scheme (MGNREGS) and the Rajiv Gandhi Awaz Yojana, the Ashraya housing scheme, Bhagyalakshmi and the social security and pension scheme“ will be implemented as a pilot project in Mysore district commencing January 1, 2013.

1.2 I have been informally advised that I should enrol myself into the UID Aadhaar scheme to get myself a UID Aadhaar card and number, since I may be unable to draw my pension without it. However, I understand and believe that my pension is protected by extant law, and Article 21 of the Constitution of India which protects my personal liberty, and hence my pension cannot be denied to me on the basis of not enrolling myself into the UID Aadhaar scheme.

1.3 The reasons I object to enrolment in the UID Aadhaar scheme are that:

1.3.1 Even though enrolment is stated to be “not mandatory”, provision of civic services like LPG supply, and now disbursement of pension, are unfairly and coercively being made contingent upon enrolment in the UID Aadhaar scheme, in violation of my rights, and

1.3.2 My right to privacy will be compromised by providing my biometrics and other personal details to the UID system, whose data security is in doubt.

1.4 I apprehend that I will personally be confronted by this unethical, devious manner of forceful enrolment into the not-mandatory UID Aadhaar scheme, and be denied my pension. I am presenting my detailed arguments below, which I request you to peruse.

2. Arguments

2.1 UID Aadhaar scheme is not mandatory.

2.1.1 UIDAI has announced that enrolment in the UID Aadhaar scheme is not mandatory, but it also mentions that it will be difficult for people to access public services in the absence of enrolment. Far from offering inclusion, the UID Aadhaar scheme threatens exclusionfrom rights, benefits and services. Thus, obviously based upon instructions issued by functionaries of the central and state governments, citizens’ rights or government benefits and services are being linked to the UID Aadhaar number.

2.1.2 The following few examples suffice to show the links over a variety of instances connected with the not-mandatory UID Aadhaar enrolment:

2.1.2.1 Registering a marriage at the Kapashera Sub-Magistrate’s Office was not permitted without an Aadhaar number, even when other documents of identification were made available [To register marriage, get Aadhaar first”; Indian Express, New Delhi, January 23, 2013; <http://www.indianexpress.com/news/to-register-marriage-get-aadhaar-first/1063310/>].

2.1.2.2 The Employees Provident Fund scheme has become Aadhaar-linked [“Provident fund to be Aadhaar-based now“; Times of India, Nagpur; January 23, 2013]. This has been objected to, by trade unions and others.

2.1.2.3 Aadhaar number has been linked to jobs, housing and MNREGA in Karnataka [“Aadhaar to be linked to jobs, housing, pension schemes”; Deccan Herald, Bangalore, September 24, 2012], and people are protesting against the UID Aadhaar scheme. The Deccan Herald report goes on to state, “Despite wide protests against UID, the official believes its second phase will generate interest when it starts enrolments from October 20”, and “’Had it not been for large-scale protests, the UID project would have covered at least 85 percent of the population across the State,’ he said”.

2.1.2.4 The Times of India, Ranchi, August 28, 2012, reported: Several months after the Unique Identification Authority of India (UIDAI) started its project for enrolment and distribution of Aadhaar cards to citizens in Jharkhand, the state government has now decided to make it mandatory for payment of salary and pension to state employees. The move seems to have given the necessary impetus to the enrolment process which was, otherwise, slow during the second phase”.

2.1.2.5 Teachers in Thane, Maharashtra, were denied salaries in the absence of Aadhaar number [“No UID, no salary, Thane teachers told“; Times of India, Mumbai, August 26, 2011].

2.1.3 The foregoing few representative examples demonstrate how government functionaries or officials are using the threat of exclusion from authorized benefits and services, or actually denying the rights of salary or pension, to force enrolment. This appears to be a ploy to give impetus to the not-mandatory UID Aadhaar scheme which would otherwise not attract people. Indeed, after using such devious coercive means, UIDAI has announced that the UID Aadhaar scheme is popular among people because the enrolment is high. But since enrolment into the UID Aadhaar scheme is not mandatory, as a citizen of a democratic nation, I am opposed to being forced into it by such extra-legal, unethical, coercive methods.

2.2 Biometrics, data security and privacy.

2.2.1 It remains unclear, even doubtful, whether biometry-information technology – the technological cornerstone of the project – is capable of the gigantic task of de-duplication in a billion-plus population. This is true in view of UIDAI’s Biometrics Standards Committee itself having noted that retaining biometric efficiency for a database of more than one billion persons “has not been adequately analysed” and the problem of fingerprint quality in India “has not been studied in depth”. Further, it is well established that fingerprints of people who do manual work are often worn out or even missing, as with rural agricultural workers or urban domestic workers. These people, who are in enormous numbers and declared beneficiaries of the UID Aadhaar scheme, will not be able to receive social and other benefits even if they succeed in enrolling into the UID Aadhaar scheme.

2.2.2 The Parliamentary Standing Committee on Finance (PSCF) had expressed concern on biometrics, stating that collection of biometric information and linking it with personal information is not within the ambit of the Citizenship Act 1955 and Citizenship Rules 2003, and hence “needs to be examined in detail by Parliament”. The PSCF urged government to “reconsider and review the UID scheme as also the proposals contained in the Bill in all its ramifications and bring forth a fresh legislation before Parliament”. Further, the PSCF has opined that the UID Aadhaar scheme is “full of uncertainty in technology as the complex scheme is built upon untested, unreliable technology and several assumptions”. Indeed, the PSCF found the UID Aadhaar project to be “conceptualized with no clarity” and “directionless”. The reference is to biometrics technology, which has been found to be unreliable in several scientific studies. To neglect the opinion of Parliament and not even review the UID project amounts to contempt of Parliament, the supreme organ of our democracy. It is incumbent upon government to reveal the steps taken to protect the privacy of citizens before acquiring biometric information.

2.2.3 The security of biometric data and other information acquired by UIDAI is in question for the following reasons:

2.2.3.1 The UID Aadhaar system can provide the link between various data bases and it will inevitably be at the core of a system which will enable profiling and tracking any citizen, to serve the clandestine purposes of India’s security or intelligence agencies, or to corporate business interests.

2.2.3.2 UIDAI and UID Aadhaar promoters claim that access to its data base will not be permitted to any agency, and will be secure from intelligence agencies. However, this claim is hollow, because the Aadhaar project is contracted to receive technical support from L-1 Identity Solutions Inc., a US-based intelligence and surveillance corporation whose top executives are acknowledged experts in the US intelligence community, as revealed in the corporation’s website. According to the UIDAI website, among other companies awarded contracts for collaboration in the Aadhaar project, are Accenture Services Pvt Ltd., which works with US Homeland Security, and Ernst & Young (which will set up UIDAI’s Central ID Data Repository (CIDR)). Further, it is well known that US law requires all agencies to provide any information demanded of them to the US Homeland Security Agency, when asked. Thus, it is arguably impossible to ensure the security of sensitive national information when the technical provider or consultant is not a government body but a business corporation with strong connections to the intelligence organization of another country, and which may, according to law, be constrained to part with information that it may have legally or illegally acquired when it worked as UIDAI’s contractor.

2.2.4 If biometric data and other information of people falls into the hands of unauthorized agencies, personal privacy is unequivocally compromised. The fact that UIDAI has no answer to the security hazards pointed out to it, and is silent or evasive on the subject, does not inspire confidence in the capability of UIDAI or the UID Aadhaar system to maintain personal privacy rights. This is quite apart from the plethora of scientific data available that shows how fingerprints are not reliable indicators of unique identity. In view of all the foregoing, I fear for violation of my personal right to privacy by enrolling into the UID Aadhaar scheme.

3. My earnest, urgent requests

3.1 I have argued above that the UID Aadhaar project is technically deficient (biometrics unproven), a security risk, and invasive of privacy, besides directly going against the advice of the Parliamentary Standing Committee on Finance (PSCF), which has people’s representatives from all political parties. Though the UID Aadhaar project is said to be “not mandatory”, it appears to be aimed squarely at being made non-optional, and is being forced on the public by using threat of exclusion from availing benefits and services, and threat of denial of rights like salary or pension, amounting to devious coercion unbecoming of a democratically elected government.

3.2 Further, the UID Aadhaar project is unsupported by law. You would be aware that when the National Identification Authority of India Bill 2010 was presented to Parliament, the PSCF did not merely reject the Bill, but also stated that the UID Aadhaar project itself should be returned to the drawing board.

3.3 In view of the foregoing arguments, and since my pension is likely to be denied to me because of my not having an Aadhaar number, I urgently and earnestly request you to

3.3.1 Issue immediate, unambiguous orders to the concerned union ministries and state governments, that making UID Aadhaar enrolment necessary for receiving rightful entitlements like pension and salary, and food-and-water, health, education, civil supplies and other welfare benefits, be stopped with immediate effect.

3.3.2 Widely publicize the orders at central government and state government levels, so that people may make a personal choice whether or not to enrol into the UID Aadhaar scheme to obtain a UID Aadhaar number.

3.3.3 Monitor the implementation of these orders in the best interests of the freedom of Indian citizens.

Yours faithfully,

(Maj Gen S.G.Vombatkere (Retd))

 

 

#India-First commutation of death sentence by President Pranab Mukherji #goodnews


English: Minister of Finance Pranab Mukherjee ...

English: Minister of Finance Pranab Mukherjee in the Plenary Session Post-Crisis Economic Order: How Can Free Market and control be Balanced? Participants captured during the World Economic Forum’s India Economic Summit 2009 held in New Delhi, 8-10 November 2009. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

 

NEW DELHI, December 3, 2012

 

V. Venkatesan

 

 

 Atbir, lodged in Tihar Jail, New Delhi, is the first death-row convict whose sentence has been commuted by President Pranab Mukherjee. Mr. Mukherjee passed the order on November 15. Atbir is one of the 16 death-row convicts whose mercy petition, Pratibha Patil, Mr. Mukherjee’s predecessor, left undecided while completing her tenure.

Atbir was convicted and sentenced to death by a sessions court in 2004 for the murder of his step mother, step sister and step brother in 1996 over a property dispute. The High Court confirmed the sentence in 2006 and the Supreme Court dismissed his appeal against the sentence in 2010. The Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) recommended commutation as the crime had a socio-economic basis.

According to the Rashtrapati Bhavan website, Mr. Mukherjee now has only one pending mercy petition to be decided by him.

The remaining petitions appear to have been sent back to the MHA to facilitate fresh submission of recommendations.

 

 

Pratibha Patil to return 155 artifacts to Rashtrapati Bhavan by 15 June 2013, reveals RTI reply


VINITA DESHMUKH | 17/09/2012

To a RTI query by this writer asking about the list of gift items loaned specifically to Pratibha Patil along with the evaluated price of each item, Rashtrapati Bhavan says information not necessary as it is a ‘temporary’ arrangement

The Rashtrapati Bhavan has officially admitted through a RTI (Right to Information) reply to this writer that “An MoU was signed on 15th June 2012 between Rashtrapati Bhavan and the Vidya Bharti Shaikshnik Mandal, Amravati, for display of 155 artifacts/mementos on a purely temporary basis, which in any case, cease to be operative with effect from 15th June 2013 and all the artifacts presently on loan shall be returned to the Rashtrapati Bhavan Museum thereafter” but refuses to divulge detailed information on the list of artifacts transferred to Ms Patil’s museum.

The Central Public Information Officer (CPIO) of the President’s Secretariat takes this ‘temporary’ arrangement as an excuse to not provide the list of artifacts given to Ms Patil to display it in her museum in her hometown, Amravati, along with their individual costs and countries that they were gifted from.

The RTI application filed by me on 3 August 2012, specifically asked the PIO of the President’s Secretariat, “List of gift items loaned specifically to Ms Pratibha Patil along with the evaluated price of each item; from which country did each gift item come from; what was the purpose of her visit when she received each of the gift item.” The reply is “do not arise in view of the answer at (3) above” (which is she would be returning artifacts by 15 June 2013 as the agreement would cease by then.

The RTI reply interestingly suggests that it was President Abdul Kalam who started the trend of moving out gifts received in the capacity of being President of India. The CPIO Saurabh Vjay states in his reply dated 6 September 2012, “No such requests have been made by any former President of India. It is, however, stated that in the past, 36 artifacts were handed over during the Presidency of Dr APJ Abdul Kalam for being displayed in the Brahmos Centre, New Delhi.” This reply came to the writer’s query under RTI seeking “copies of official requests made by Presidents of India for loaning of gifts from 1990 onwards. Provide copies of all such correspondence within the President of India office as well as between President of India office and the relevant district/city authority where the President of India may have resided or the place where she/he wants to display the loaned gift items, form 1990 onwards.”

The RTI reply also states that “no such rules and regulations are available for loaning of gift items received by the President of India. This was in reply to my query, “Copies of Rules/GRs/amendments/correspondence for rules and amended rules regarding gift articles and souvenirs which are received by Presidents of India from other countries and within the country; Copy of rules and regulations for ‘loaning’ official gifts received by President of India to presidents on their retirement or loaned to any other organisation.”

To the query, “How many gift items in total does the ‘Tosha Khana’ of the President’s office have at the moment and what is the total amount in value?” CPIO Saurabh Vijay states in his reply that “as per our records there are about 2,500 gifts in ‘Tosha Khana’ of the President’s Secretariat and as regards the value of these items, no such records are available in the Art section.”  This is indeed shocking for, as per the ministry of home affairs, any contribution in the form of gifts received by President of India or other dignitaries must be valued within 30 days of receipt of gift.

It may be recalled that a museum is being specially set up in Pratibha Patil’s hometown by the family trust, Vidya Bharti Shaikshnik Mandal, run by her politician-son Rajendra Shekhawat.

The writer is filing a first appeal to the President’s Secretariat since the information received is inadequate.

Read the previous article here: Pratibha Patil’s Museum: Gifts received by VVIPs from foreign countries can be purchased by them but can they be loaned?

(Vinita Deshmukh is the consulting editor of Moneylife, an RTI activist and convener of the Pune Metro Jagruti Abhiyaan. She is the recipient of prestigious awards like the Statesman Award for Rural Reporting which she won twice in 1998 and 2005 and the Chameli Devi Jain award for outstanding media person for her investigation series on Dow Chemicals. She co-authored the book “To The Last Bullet – The Inspiring Story of A Braveheart – Ashok Kamte” with Vinita Kamte. She can be reached atvinitapune@gmail.com.)

Pardoning President – commutation of 30 death sentecnes


By Syed Nazakat and Vijaya Pushkarna
Story Dated: Monday, June 11, 2012

Commutation of 30 death sentences

Guns for her roses: Pratibha Patil

When President Pratibha Patil vacates the Rashtrapati Bhavan on July 25, she would have the dubious distinction of having commuted the highest number of death sentences to life imprisonment. During her tenure, she showed clemency to 30 convicts, condemned prisoners who had killed 60 people, including 22 women and children.
Among those granted pardon include Molai Ram and Santosh Yadav, who in 1996 had gangraped and murdered the 10-year-old daughter of a jailer on the premises of a prison in Madhya Pradesh where they were inmates; Dharmender Singh and Narendra Yadav of Uttar Pradesh, who had killed a couple, their two sons and 15-year-old daughter, whom they had earlier tried to rape; Piara Singh of Punjab and his three sons, who had massacred 17 persons of a wedding party on a personal rivalry; Sushil Murmu of Jharkhand, who had sacrificed a nine-year-old boy out of superstition; and Satish, who had raped and murdered a five-year-old girl in Uttar Pradesh in 2001.
For many people, the presidential pardons have come as a shock. “In many cases, the victims were raped, sexually assaulted and tortured before being murdered,” said a schoolteacher. “Pardoning them sends a wrong, sad message.”
Patil’s predecessors, A.P.J. Abdul Kalam and K.R. Narayanan, had granted clemency in only one case each. Patil’s extraordinary generosity has led to a fresh debate on death penalty in India. The focus is now on what Patil has not done—she has not decided on the mercy petitions of Afzal Guru, convicted in the 2001 Parliament attack case; Khalistan separatist Devinder Singh Bhullar, who tried to kill Youth Congress president Maninder Singh Bitta in 1993; and Balwant Singh Rajoana, who assassinated Punjab chief minister Beant Singh in 1995.
The BJP, the main opposition party in Parliament, has been criticising the Centre for its ambivalent stance on the death penalty debate. BJP leader Prakash Javadekar says “those who have acted against the country” should be hanged immediately. When Home Minister P. Chidambaram was criticised for the delay in executing Ajmal Kasab, who was convicted in the 2008 Mumbai attacks case, he had told Parliament: “We have to decide as a nation whether we want to follow the rule of law or not.”
Patil, in her zeal to grant presidential pardons, appears to have squandered the chance to send out a clear signal on the issue. During her term, she rejected three mercy petitions and commuted sentences in 19 cases, involving 30 convicts. She, however, has not taken a call on 10 mercy petitions, including that of Afzal Guru.
Realising that the pardons could be politically explosive, Rashtrapati Bhavan officials are pulling out all the stops to give them a positive spin. Presidential spokesperson Archana Dutta told THE WEEK, “The President has adhered to the rule book while dealing with mercy petitions. It is incorrect to say that it is on account of her personal belief [against death penalty] that she has commuted these death sentences.”
Many people, however, disagree. “So many mercy pardons may send the wrong signal about our legal procedure,” said senior advocate Gopal Jain. “It is not clear what parameters she used to commute the death sentence in 19 cases and reject the other three.”
Said a senior politician: “Here is a President whose stint at the Rashtrapati Bhavan has been daubed with controversy on many fronts, including the recent land allocation issue. Her office is working overtime to contain bad press. The President could have absolved herself of her rather lacklustre tenure by taking decisive action on an issue that concerns the security of the people of this country. But, instead, she appears to have chosen to tread a safe, political path.”
Human rights and pro-life lobbies view the presidential pardons as an indication of the way India is moving in the larger debate favouring abolition of capital punishment. Although India has not abolished capital punishment, it has rarely been carried out after the 1983 Supreme Court ruling that death penalty should be imposed only in “the rarest of rare cases”. Since 1995, only one execution, that of Dhananjoy Chatterjee in August 2004, has taken place. Dhananjoy was convicted of raping and murdering a schoolgirl in 1990.
Under the law, the death penalty can be imposed for murder, gang robbery with murder, abetting the suicide of a child or insane person, waging war against the government, abetting mutiny by a member of the armed forces. Recently, special courts extended the penalty to cases of terrorism and the Supreme Court has recommended that it be extended to those found guilty of committing honour killings and to cops involved in brutal fake encounter killings.
Death penalty, however, has been a sensitive issue. In Tamil Naidu, widespread public rallies were conducted to seek clemency for the Rajiv Gandhi killers. A person even burned herself to death to protest the imminent hangings. Local politicians insisted that the hangings would be a “betrayal of the Tamils”, and would provoke popular fury.
A similar kind of fury was witnessed in Punjab when the Shiromani Gurdwara Parbandhak Committee, which functions as a parliament of Sikhs, demanded that the state 
government fight to save Balwant Singh Rajoana, the assassin of Beant Singh. The Akal Takht, which is the highest temporal seat of Sikhs, has conferred the title of Zinda Shaheed, or living martyr, on him. In Kashmir, Afzal Guru’s death sentence has been an emotive issue. Few doubt Afzal’s involvement in the 2001 Parliament attack. But serious questions remain over the investigation and trial, carried out under the now-defunct Prevention of Terrorist Activities Act.

With widespread instances of custodial abuse, legal experts have been campaigning for the abolition of the death penalty. They argue that there is no empirical evidence to suggest that the death sentence works as a deterrent. The delays in carrying out the executions have also been pointed out. Said B.S. Bilowria, a Supreme Court lawyer: “The long delays in executing the death sentences are extra punishment. It is in addition to the punishment of death and, therefore, it becomes unconstitutional. You cannot give a person double punishment by first locking him in a prison cell for years and then hanging him after a decade or so.”

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