This is the guest post of Praveen Dalal elaborating the dangers that Aadhaar project is posing to the democracy and fundamental rights of Indian citizens. The persistent use of Aadhaar by Indian government even at the cost of contempt of court and prohibition by the Supreme Court of India shows that Indian government is well committed to violate the civil liberties of Indian citizens, opines Dalal. In fact, the Digital India project has become the biggest digital panopticon of human history as Indian government has illegally linked the same with the illegal and unconstitutional technology names Aadhaar, says Dalal.
Aadhaar Project was visualised as a public good project but it ended up being a project that is violating various Constitutional and Statutory Provisions. The Constitutional Validity of the Aadhaar Project has been questioned before the Supreme Court of India. In another related case, the Supreme Court of India has held that the Aadhaar cannot be made compulsory for availing Public Services. Similarly, the Supreme Court has also restrained UIDAI from transferring any Biometric Information of any person who has been allotted the Aadhaar number to any other Agency without his consent in writing (PDF).
Just like Congress Government even the BJP Government has declared that it would bring and ensure a Legal Framework for Aadhaar. However, till the writing of this Article, no news about a Legal Framework for Aadhaar is available. As a result the position on the date is that Aadhaar is operating without any Legal Framework and Parliamentary Oversight.
Aadhaar Project in its “Current Form” is suffering from many “Illegalities and Infirmities”. For instance:
(1) Aadhaar has been made “Mandatory and Exclusive” for availing many Public Services in India despite Supreme Court’s Interim Order and Constitutional Prohibitions.
(2) Aadhaar Project is not supported by any Legal Framework and is not subject to “Parliamentary Oversight”.
(4) Aadhaar Project is “Grossly Weak” on the fronts of Cyber Security and Data Security.
(5) Aadhaar is not “Full Proof and Tamper Proof” and it can be “Obtained Illegally” and in Wrong Name.
(6) The “Authentication Mechanism” of Aadhaar Project is also faulty and in many cases gives “False Negative Alarms”.
(7) The present Practices and Methods adopted by Indian Government and its Agencies for Biometric Collection of Indians/Residents is Unconstitutional.
(8) Even “Clubbing/Merging” of Biometric Data of Aadhaar and National Population Register (NPR) has “Serious Constitutional Ramifications” and the same should not be done.
(9) Absence of Encryption Policy of India (PDF) to safeguard Biometrics Data, etc.
If we add the “Unaccountable Intelligence Related Exercises” of Indian Government, its Agencies and Foreign Partners like United States, the list is too bulky to be discussed here. Suffice is to say that the Aadhaar Project is suffering from many “Vices and Illegalities”. These include Civil Liberties Violations, Unconstitutional E-Surveillance Issues, Data Security and Cyber Security Issues, Compulsory Nature of Aadhaar, Unaccountable Intelligence Agencies, Foreign E-Surveillance Threats, Telecom Security Issues, Integration with Surveillance projects like NATGRID, Unconstitutional Biometrics Collections, etc.
All these aspects make the Aadhaar Project an Unconstitutional Project that was required to be Scrapped by the Modi Government. Alternatively, all these Constitutional Infirmities and Illegalities were required to be “Eliminated” by the Modi Government before allotting further funds to Aadhaar Project. There cannot be a “Third Option” for the Modi Government and wasting precious “Public Money” on Unconstitutional Project like Aadhaar “Can Never Be Justified” even by the Standards of the “Fancy Words and Empty Promises” made by the Congress and BJP Governments regarding Aadhaar Project.
Not only this, the entire situation has also raised “Serious Questions” about the “Real Intentions” of Indian Government vis-à-vis Aadhaar Project. The “Present Form” of Aadhaar Project and the behaviour of Indian Government regarding Civil Liberties have definitely negated the theory of Welfare Project as projected by both Congress and BJP Government. But if Aadhaar Project is not a Welfare Project what is its purpose and true nature?
In my personal opinion, Aadhaar in its present form has no Welfare Elements attached to it whatsoever but is an “Endemic E-Surveillance Project” that is operating well beyond the Constitutional Protections, Parliamentary Oversight and Judicial Scrutiny. The sole purpose seems to be to club the Biometric Details of Indian Citizens/resident with other “Centralised Databases” like National Intelligence Grid (NATGRID) Project of India, Central Monitoring System (CMS) Project of India, Internet Spy System Network and Traffic Analysis System (NETRA) of India, Crime and Criminal Tracking Network and Systems (CCTNS) Project of India, etc. Gradually, both Biometrics and Non Biometrics based details and data would be clubbed with the DNA Databank of India that Indian Government would definitely go for in the near future.
It is for You to decide whether You wish to give Your Children a “Free and Transparent India” or You wish Your Children to be a Guinea Pig or Lab Rat for Indian E-Surveillance Projects like Aadhaar that are clearly Illegal and Unconstitutional.