At least twice a day, most of us get messages from telecom companies whose services we use, that “its compulsory” to connect your Aadhar card number to your mobile phone number(s) to prevent disconnection. Sometimes, a Customer Service representative will call up convey to you the same message and give an underlying threat of “dire consequences” in case the subscriber fails to do as ordered.
Are you aware that the telecom companies, along with the Department of Telecomm (India) and the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) are all indulging in what can be at-best called “Un-Constitutional Activity” and at worst be termed as a ‘moral conspiracy to defraud the public’? And all of this is legally mandated by the Government of India that we supported and fanatically propelled into power in 2014.
Let’s start with the basics:
What exactly is Aadhar? On 28 January 2009; the Planning Commission of India by a Government notification created an administrative body named ‘Unique Identification Authority of India’ (UIDAI). The President of India sanctioned THE AADHAAR (TARGETED DELIVERY OF FINANCIAL AND OTHER SUBSIDIES, BENEFITS AND SERVICES) ACT, 2016 on 25th March, 2016. An Act to provide for, as a good governance, efficient, transparent, and targeted delivery of subsidies, benefits and services, the expenditure for which is incurred from the Consolidated Fund of India, to individuals residing in India through assigning of unique identity numbers to such individuals and for matters connected therewith or incidental thereto.
The most significant part of this act is in Chapter (1), Section (2), Clause (w):- which states: “service” means any provision, facility, utility or any other assistance provided in any form to an individual or a group of individuals and includes such other services as may be notified by the Central Government; and therein lies the first danger – where delivery of services are now being controlled by the Government and not by the personal choice of each citizen of India to receive such services as a fundamental right.
Let us also look at Chapter (2), Clause (6):- The Authority may require Aadhaar number holders to update their demographic information and biometric information, from time to time, in such manner as may be specified by regulations, so as to ensure continued accuracy of their information in the Central Identities Data Repository.
Compare these two very intrusive policies of the Government of India against the Constitution of India; where Part-III of the Indian constitution from article(s) 12 to 32, guarantees our fundamental rights. Fundamental Rights are individual rights as enforced against the arbitrary invasion by the state except, in the case of Art(15) (2), Article (17), Article (18)-(3-4), Article (23) and Article (24) where these can be enforced against private individuals also.
Specifically Article 21 of our Constitution guarantees “The Right to Life and Personal Liberty”. The Article prohibits the deprivation of the above rights except according to a procedure established by law. And that law is now Aadhar.
“It is the fundamental right of everyone in this country… to live with human dignity free from exploitation. This right to live with human dignity enshrined in Article 21 derives its life breath from the Directive Principles of State Policy”.
Let us now look at the “Right to Personal Liberty”:
In India the concept of ‘liberty’ has received a far more expansive interpretation. The Supreme Court of India has rejected the view that liberty denotes merely freedom from bodily restraint; and has held that it encompasses those rights and privileges that have long been recognized as being essential to the orderly pursuit of happiness by free men. The meaning of the term ‘personal liberty’ was considered by the Supreme Court in the Kharak Singh’s case, which arose out of the challenge to Constitutional validity of the U.P. Police Regulations that provided for surveillance by way of domiciliary visits and secret picketing.
Using this as a reference; the Government’s insistence on forcibly thrusting the policy of Aadhar on every citizen – is in itself a blatant violation of the Constitutional Rights guaranteed to us.
Why is this entire Aadhar Act illegal and immoral?
The procedure adopted by the Government is arbitrary and violates of Article 21 because:
(a) There is no informed consent;
(b) Individuals are not told about crucial aspects such as potential misuse of the information, the absence of any statutory protection, the commercial value of the information;
(c) Private parties collect biometric information without safeguards;
(d) The enrolment is based on a flawed introducer system and verifier system; and
(e) There is no government security of stored data.
- The project as it is being implemented coerces individuals to part with biometrics; and violates their right to privacy.
- The project is arbitrary and illegal as it allows private (non-Government) entities to have dominion over biometrics without governmental control; thereby compromising personal security and national security.
- The project enables surveillance of individuals, and thereby violates Articles 14 and 21;
- The project as implemented violates the right to human dignity which is a facet of Article 21;
- The project compromises citizenship;
- The failure to provide an ‘opt out’ option violates individual autonomy and dignity guaranteed under Article 21;
- The foundation of the project, i.e. biometrics, is an unreliable and untested technology. Moreover, biometric exceptions severely erode reliability;
- Public funds are being channeled to private enterprises without sufficient validation and study that biometric verification works.
The Government refuses to accept the most basic of all Rights of Humans – that “Your biometrics are ‘yours and yours alone’. The government can have no claim over them, any more than it can claim your body”.
The Aadhaar project is a monstrous invasion of individual rights. It destroys the foundational principle of limited government which is a fundamental attribute of our written Constitution. The Constitution not only draws lines amongst different organs of the state but also a line between what a state can legitimately do and what is beyond its sphere. Creating a vast data bank of biometrics that potentially can be used against an individual is an enormous and systemic invasion of privacy that appears to fall outside the legitimate sphere of limited government.
Now let us look at why Telecom companies and Banks are insisting frantically on the linkage of Aadhar to their services.
The Aadhar Act enables both identification and verification of the individual. Here is where money can be made. The “verification” part of the process can have a financial charge on it, the amount of the charge making its way into the coffers of the service providers and NOT into the Government treasury.
Let us assume that Banks will charge a basic amount of Rs: 100/- per year as KYC (Know Your Customer) charges using Aadhar as the base for verification. As per data released by RBI on 10 March 2016 – there are 1440 million deposit accounts and 1170 million Savings bank account, the total being 2610 million (or 261 Crores). Multiply these many bank accounts by an annual KYC fee of Rs: 100/- per account and the banks of India will make a minimum Rupees 26,100 Crores for doing absolutely nothing except verify the information that is owned by each individual in the first place. Add to this amount the “Loan Processing and Disbursement Fees” that banks can legally charge – and we can guessimate that Banks can make at least 12- 15 thousand crores more for providing the same services they are providing now.
With Telecom companies, their financial profits will soar through the skies. India has 1,019.5 million (101.95 Crores) active mobile connections in India as of May 2017, and this is supposed to increase exponentially. Even assuming that the telecom subscriber base remains at 102 Crore mobile phone connections and assuming that Telecom operators also charge KYC fees of minimum Rs: 100/- per connections per year; the industry stands to gain Rupees 10,200 Crores pure profit per year for providing absolutely no service of their own.
We can be sure that the Babus and Ministers of the Government of India are aware of this, and knowing the financial profits, is encouraging the practice of linking Aadhar to banking and telecom services. This is the reason that we can suspect a “Government – Industry Nexus” where the average citizen is trapped into paying money for service that’s not needed; while others (including corrupt babus and politicians) make huge profits by manipulating the law and even worse – willfully ignoring the Directive Principles of the Constitution of India and the Rights granted therein to the Citizens.
Last, but not the least; one of the arguments that the Government puts forth is that Aadhar will enhance the security of the Nation. This is a blatant lie. The security of the nation is not dependent on Aadhar system but solely on internal law-enforcement and external Defense policy.
The fact that Aadhar has been happily granted to illegal immigrants in India (Rohingyas – almost all 40,000 of them), Bangladeshi squatters in India (2 to 2.5 Crore), 2 lakh other illegal immigrants from various countries; and almost 10,000 illegal immigrants from Pakistan. One can be sure that most of these people are enrolled in the Aadhar network, thereby ensuring their future claim to Indian citizenship. Even Pakistani terrorists have been found to have been enrolled in Aadhar. Read about that Here . Essentially, this puts the security of the Nation at a higher risk, if one is to argue on the Government’s security standpoint.
It is up to each of us to decide whether we want to be enrolled in the Aadhar system the way it’s designed to financially exploit the population, reduce and curtail fundamental rights and overall allow the Government to police, control and dictate every aspect of the Citizen’s life.
वंदे मातरम् |Jai Hind|
Disclaimer: The author of this article has made a conscious decision not to enroll in the Aadhar program since its immoral, illegal and against my fundamental Rights as guaranteed by the Constitution.
Author: ‘Sardar’ Sanjay Matkar
Picture Credit: @s_navroop and Twitter for screenshot