Skip to main content

Apex Court aadhaar verdict: A "missed opportunity" to save Indians from anonymous donors' dictatorship

By Gopal Krishna*
Verdict of Supreme Court of 4 Judges of the 5-Judge Constitution Bench on biometric data based 12 digit Unique Identification (UID) number branded as Aadhaar is manifestly unscientific and anti-poor. The verdict was delivered on September 26, 2018. It has taken citizens to pre-Magna Carta days (1215 AD) or even earlier, to the days prior to the declaration of Cyrus, the Persian King (539 BC) that willed freedom for slaves.
The Court failed to rigorously examine the ramifications of biometric information based identification of residents of India in the light of global experiences. UK, China, Australia, US and France have scrapped similar initiatives. US Supreme Court, Philippines’ Supreme Court and European Court of Human Rights have ruled against the indiscriminate biometric profiling of citizens without warrant.
UID/Aadhaar is akin to Sanjay Gandhi's forced family planning programs. Even Sanjay Gandhi faced the adverse consequences of forcing planning on human body. Aadhaar-linked programs make Indian citizens subjects of Big Data companies.
The opening statement of the verdict authored by by Justices AK Sikri and concurred by, Dipak Mishra, and A.M. Khanwilkar reads: “It is better to be unique than the best. Because, being the best makes you the number one, but being unique makes you the only one. Unique makes you the only one’ is the central message of Aadhaar, which is on the altar facing constitutional challenge in these petitions.”
This opening statement in the order is questionable from scientific point of view. A report “Biometric Recognition: Challenges and Opportunities” of the National Research Council, USA published on 24 September 2010 concluded that the current state of biometrics is ‘inherently fallible’. That is also one of the findings of a five-year study. This study was jointly commissioned by the CIA, the US Department of Homeland Security and the Defence Advanced Research Projects Agency.
Another study titled “Experimental Evidence of a Template Aging Effect in Iris Biometrics” supported by the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA), the Biometrics Task Force and the Technical Support Working Group through Army contract has demolished the widely accepted fact that iris biometric systems are not subject to a template aging effect. The study provides evidence of a template aging effect.
A “template aging effect” is defined as an increase in the false reject rate with increased elapsed time between the enrollment image and the verification image. The study infers, “We find that a template aging effect does exist. We also consider controlling for factors such as difference in pupil dilation between compared images and the presence of contact lenses, and how these affect template aging, and we use two different algorithms to test our data.”
A report “Biometrics: The Difference Engine: Dubious security” published by “The Economist” (October 1, 2010) observed, “Biometric identification can even invite violence. A motorist in Germany had a finger chopped off by thieves seeking to steal his exotic car, which used a fingerprint reader instead of a conventional door lock.”
Notwithstanding similar unforeseen consequences Prime Minister’s faith in biometric remains unshaken. It seems that considerations other than truth have given birth to this faith. Is there a biological material in the human body that constitutes biometric data which is immortal, ageless and permanent? 
Besides working conditions, humidity, temperature and lighting conditions also impact the quality of biological material used for generating biometric data. UID/Aadhaar is based on the unscientific and questionable assumption that there are parts of human body likes fingerprint, iris, voice etc” that does not age, wither and decay with the passage of time.
Stalwarts like Justice VR Krishna Iyer, a people’s judge of the Supreme Court, SR Sankaran, a people's bureaucrat and KG Kannibaran, author of “The Wages of Impunity”, had opposed biometric UID/Aadhaar and Unique Identification Authority of India (UIDAI). Their views were endorsed by the Parliamentary Standing Committee on Finance. The dissenting order of Justice Chandrachud echoes their views. The Bhartiya Janata Party-led Government like the previous Congress Party led Government has been bulldozing the Unique Identification (UID) /Aadhaar number database project down the throat of citizens.
Before their death Justice Iyer, Kannabiran and Sankaran issued a Statement of Concern against the biometric UID/aadhaar number in September 2010 along with fourteen other eminent citizens. The Statement of Concern reads:
“The 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....This project is intended to collect demographic data about all residents in the country." It further reads: "The involvement of firms such as Ernst & Young and Accenture raise further questions about who will have access to the data, and what that means to the people of India."
The statement also observed the following: "Constitutionality of this project, including in the matter of privacy, the relationship between the state and the people, security and other fundamental rights."
In the light of the tragic cases of civil death and actual deaths caused by UID/Aadhaar project since September 2010, there is a compelling logic for abandoning this project like other civilized countries. This project treats citizens worse than prisoners. It is aimed at enslaving present and future generations of Indians including future PMs, CMs, Judges and soldiers by the beneficial owners of ungovernable technology companies who have turned political parties into puppets through their limitless anonymous donations.
In the face of assault on citizens’ rights and the emergence of a regime that is making legislatures and judiciary subservient to automatic identification, big data mining and artificial intelligence companies, the majority verdict on UID/Aadhaar project and Aadhaar Act has undermined the sovereignty of the country.
Majority verdict of the Supreme Court has missed the opportunity to save Indians from the dictatorship of anonymous donors who have compromised national security and almost all the public institutions.
If it is not reviewed soon India's social policies will be guided by biometric and genetic determinism and eugenic thinking or not. It demonstrates that right to have natural and human rights of citizens can be made conditional by their servant, the government.
---
*Convener, Citizens Forum for Civil Liberties (CFCL), involved in the research and advocacy against surveillance technologies like UID/Adhaar and DNA profiling. CFCL appeared before the Parliamentary Standing Committee on Finance that questioned and trashed the biometric identification of Indians for UID/Aadhaar

Comments

TRENDING

Ganga world's second most polluted river, Modi's Varanasi tops microplastics pollution

By Rajiv Shah  Will the new report by well-known elite NGO Toxics Link create a ripple in the powerful corridors of Delhi? Titled “Quantitative analysis of microplastics along River Ganga”, forwarded to Counterview, doesn’t just say that Ganga is the second most polluted river in the world, next only to Yangtze (China). It goes ahead to do a comparison of microplastics pollution in three cities shows Varanasi – the Lok Sabha constituency of Prime Minister Narendra Modi – is more polluted compared to Kanpur and Haridwar.

How real is Mamata challenge to Modi? Preparing for 2024 'khela hobey' moment

By Prof Ujjwal K Chowdhury*  Third time elected West Bengal Chief Minister, Mamata Banerjee is on a whirlwind tour of Delhi, meeting everyone who matters within and beyond the government, the Prime Minister, the President, some Cabinet ministers, Sonia and Rahul Gandhi, several other opposition leaders, et al.

Did Modi promote Dholavira, a UNESCO site now, as Gujarat CM? Facts don't tally

By Rajiv Shah  As would generally happen, Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s tweet – that not only was he “absolutely delighted” with the news of UNESCO tag to Dholavira, but he “ first visited ” the site during his “student days and was mesmerised by the place” – is being doubted by his detractors. None of the two tweets, strangely, even recalls once that it’s a Harappan site in Gujarat.

Swami Vivekananda's views on caste and sexuality were 'painfully' regressive

By Bhaskar Sur* Swami Vivekananda now belongs more to the modern Hindu mythology than reality. It makes a daunting job to discover the real human being who knew unemployment, humiliation of losing a teaching job for 'incompetence', longed in vain for the bliss of a happy conjugal life only to suffer the consequent frustration.

If not Modi, then who? Why? I (an ordinary citizen) am there! Main hoon naa!

By Mansee Bal Bhargava*  The number of women ministers is doubled in early July from the first term after cabinet reshuffle by the present government led by Narendra Modi. While there were 06 women ministers in the previous term, this term there are 11. The previous two governments led by Dr Manmohan Singh had 10 women ministers in each tenure. Are these number of women ministers something to rejoice in the near 75 years of independence? Yes maybe, if we think that things are slowly improving in the patriarchal system. This change is less likely to achieve gender balance in the parliament otherwise we require more than 11 as per the 33% reservation . This change is also less likely because the men politicians’ inability to handle the country’s mess is becoming more and more evident and especially during the corona crisis. Seems, the addition of more women ministers may be a result of the recent assembly elections where women played a decisive role in the election results. For example

Giant conglomerates 'favoured': Whither tribal rights for jal-jungle-jameen?

Prafull Samantara By Mohammad Irshad Ansari*  The struggle for “Jal, Jungle and Jameen” has been a long-drawn battle for the tribal communities of India. This tussle was once again in the limelight with the proposed diamond mining in the Buxwaha forest of Chhatarpur (Madhya Pradesh). The only difference in this movement was the massive social media support it gained, which actually seems to tilt the scale for the tribal people in a long time.

Buddhist shrines massively destroyed by Brahmanical rulers in "pre-Islamic" era: Historian DN Jha's survey

Nalanda mahavihara By Our Representative Prominent historian DN Jha, an expert in India's ancient and medieval past, in his new book , "Against the Grain: Notes on Identity, Intolerance and History", in a sharp critique of "Hindutva ideologues", who look at the ancient period of Indian history as "a golden age marked by social harmony, devoid of any religious violence", has said, "Demolition and desecration of rival religious establishments, and the appropriation of their idols, was not uncommon in India before the advent of Islam".

UP arrest of 'terrorists': Diverting attention from Covid goof-up, Ram temple land scam?

By Advocate Mohammad Shoaib, Sandeep Pandey* That corruption is rampant in police department is a common experience. However, there is another form of corruption which devastates lives of individuals and their families. It has now emerged as a common phenomenon that police more often than not register false cases because of which individuals have to spend number of years in jail.

Effluent discharge into deep sea? Modi told to 'reconsider' Rs 2275 crore Gujarat project

Counterview Desk  In a letter to Prime Minister Narendra Modi, well-known Gujarat-based environmentalist, Mahesh Pandya of the Paryavaran Mitra, has protested against the manner in with the Gujarat government is continuing with its deep sea effluent disposal project despite environmental concerns.

Khorigaon demolition: People being 'brutally' evicted, cops 'restricting' food, water

By Ishita Chatterjee, Neelesh Kumar, Manju Menon, Vimal Bhai* On July 23, the Faridabad Municipal Corporation told the Supreme Court that they have cleared 74 acres out of 150 acres. Despite the affidavit of the Municipal Corporation, the court, on the complaint of various litigants, that the arrangements for living, food etc. have not been made for the people.