Aadhaar; Right to Privacy

Supreme Court Division Bench Refuses to Grant Stay On Government Notifications Mandating Aadhaar For Social Schemes

By | Aadhaar; Right to Privacy, Newsupdate | 2 Comments
The Supreme Court on Tuesday refused to stay the government notifications that make it mandatory to furnish Aadhaar cards from July 1 to avail social security benefits, including availing scholarships, right to food and mid-day meals.

[Read more about Aadhaar being made compulsory for TB-related welfare schemes HERE]

A vacation Bench of Justices A.M. Kanwilkar and Navin Sinha declined to pass any interim order till the Center filed its response through Additional Solicitor General Tushar Mehta, who also contended that the cut-off date for those who do not possess the Aadhaar card has been extended till September 30, by virtue of Office Memorandum dated 22nd June 2017 and hence no interim measures need be passed till the Center had filed its reply. 
The Court stated that “In view of this submission and the observations found in the judgment in the case of Binoy Viswam vs. Union of India and Others [Writ Petition (C) No.247 of 2017] decided on 9th June 2017, no further observation is required.”

In the case of Binoy Viswam vs the Union of India, the Hon’ble Court had held that does without Aadhaar could not be forced to get Aadhaar till the Aadhaar Act withstood the test of Constitutionality under Article 21 in the case of Justice K.S. Puttaswamy (Retd.) And Anr. vs Union of India and Others [WP (c) 494 of 2012.]
The matter has been listed again for the 7th of July, 2017.
Read the Supreme Court Order dated 27/06/2017 HERE

Aadhaar Now Compulsory To Claim Benefits For TB Cure Under RNTCP Scheme

By | Aadhaar; Right to Privacy, Newsupdate | One Comment

Despite the fact that the question of the Constitutional validity of the Aadhaar Act, 2016 itself, is pending before a Constitutional Bench of the Hon’ble Supreme Court of India in the matter of Justice K.S.Puttaswamy(Retd) & Anr vs the Union Of India and Ors, and the latest the Order of the Supreme Court in Binoy Vishwam vs Union of India declaring that people without Aadhaar cannot be made to get Aadhaar and link it with PAN till the validity of Aadhaar itself is decided, the Central Government has brazenly gone ahead  declared Aadhaar mandatory not only for for Financial Transactions over Rs. 50,000/- , but now also mandatory for prevailing benefits under the RNTCP Scheme.

Revised National TB Control Program (RNTCP) (sometimes known as RNTCP 1) was started in 1997. The RNTCP was then expanded across India until the entire nation was covered by the RNTCP in March 2006. At that time the RNTCP also became known as RNTCP II. RNTCP II was designed to consolidate the gains achieved in RNTCP I, and to initiate services to address TB/HIV, MDR-TB and to extend RNTCP to the private sector. RNTCP uses the World Health Organisation (WHO) recommended Directly Observed Treatment Short Course (DOTS) strategy and reaches over a billion people in 632 districts/reporting units. 

As per the National Strategic Plan 2012–17, the program has a vision of achieving a “TB-free India”, and aims to achieve Universal Access to TB control services.The program provides, various free of cost, quality tuberculosis diagnosis, and treatment services across the country through the government health system.
The Gazette notification makes Aadhaar compulsory for benefits including compulsory cash assistance, free medical aid etc. It is important to note here that the well endowed can practically afford TB medicines, but those who are genuinely poor and suffering cannot afford the medicines and absolutely need the benefit of the scheme. As such the scheme cannot be made conditional to registration under an Act (Aadhaar) whose very locus is under challenge. 

Apart from this, on the basis of flawed understanding of the Lokniti Foundation judgment, the Government has already started forcing people to link their Aadhaar with their mobile numbers. 

First, they try to get people to link Aadhaar to PAN via a Money Bill and are stopped by the Supreme Court and now they go full steam ahead despite the matter being sub judice. The only explanation to this can be that the Government intends to put us in a scenario where Aadhaar has already been made 100% enforced, thus making any possible negative judgment against Aadhaar in the case of KS Puttaswamy redundant.

List of resources to read with respect to problems with Aadhaar here, here, and here

Finance Bill 2017: What the Public needs to know about Aadhaar & Political Donations.

By | Aadhaar; Right to Privacy, Newsupdate, YOUR VOICE | One Comment

Sri. Arun Jaitley’s amendments to the Finance Bill, 2017 has been passed in Lok Sabha on the 22nd of March, 2017. A “money bill”, it will not be sent to Rajya Sabha for discussion, but only for their recommendations, which can be rejected by Lok Sabha, and then will be sent to the President of India for his assent.
Apart from introducing 40 amendments to different laws, Finance Bill, 2017 has a string of amendments that will impact a variety of existing taxation laws involving funding of political parties, use of Aadhaar, income tax returns and raids, caps in cash transaction, and a host of other issues.
There are two major worrying things in this Finance Bill, 2017. 
1) The amendments to the Finance Bill, 2017 propose to remove: 
(i) the limit of 7.5% of net profit of the last three financial years, for contributions that a company may make to political parties, 
(ii) the requirement of a company to disclose the name of the political parties to which a contribution has been made. 

In short, keeping in mind that Political Parties are exempted from RTI, a company can literally buy out an entire party and the public would be no wiser!

A token ‘good’, is that the Finance Bill also makes all contributions being made to the Political parties to be made electronically.

2) It has been mandatory for every person to quote their Aadhaar number after July 1, 2017, when:
(i) applying for a Permanent Account Number (PAN), or 
(ii) filing their Income Tax returns. In case a person does not have an Aadhaar, he will be required to quote their Aadhaar enrolment number, indicating that an application to obtain Aadhaar has been filed. 

Every person holding a PAN on July 1, 2017, and who is eligible to hold an Aadhaar, will be required to provide the authorities his Aadhaar number, by a date and in a manner notified by the central government. A failure to provide this number would result in the PAN number being invalidated, and the person would be treated at par with anyone who has not applied for a PAN. The government may exempt persons from this provision through a notification. 
What is the fuss with the Government asking us to get Aadhar cards you say? The Supreme Court in the case of Justice K.S.Puttaswamy(Retd) & Anr vs the Union Of India and Or [(2015)8 SCC735], via its interim order dated 11th August, 2015 clearly stated that Aadhaar cannot be made mandatory for all Government services till a Constitutional Bench decided on whether Aadhar violated the right to privacy.
The Ratio (applicable portion) of the Order is reproduced below;

“Having considered the matter, we are of the view that the balance of interest would be best served, till the matter is finally decided by a larger Bench if the Union of India or the UIDA proceed in the following manner:-

1. The Union of India shall give wide publicity in the electronic and print media including radio and television networks that it is not mandatory for a citizen to obtain an Aadhaar card;

2. The production of an Aadhaar card will not be condition for obtaining any benefits otherwise due to a citizen;

3. The Unique Identification Number or the Aadhaar card will not be used by the respondents for any purpose other than the PDS Scheme and in particular for the purpose of distribution of foodgrains, etc. and cooking fuel, such as kerosene. The Aadhaar card may also be used for the purpose of the LPG Distribution Scheme;
4. The information about an individual obtained by the Unique Identification Authority of India while issuing an Aadhaar card shall not be used for any other purpose, save as above, except as may be directed by a Court for the purpose of criminal investigation.”

It is important to note that the Government of India had filed a petition to amend this order, in front of a 5 judge Bench in the case of Justice K.S.Puttaswamy(Retd) & Anr vs the Union Of India and Or [ (2015) 10 SCC 92], and even there the Hon’ble 5 judge bench of the SC, by its order dated 15 October 2015, had reiterated that the Aadhaar scheme “is purely voluntary and cannot be made mandatory” till the Supreme Court ruled on the issue in its finality.

Despite this, in clear violation (and alleged contempt) of the Supreme Court’s order, not only has the Finance Ministry decided to make Aadhar compulsory by what could only be termed as colourable exercise, but also the Telecom Department has issued a circular dated 23/03/2017, calling for 100% Aadhaar linked KYC within the next one year. 
It is interesting to note that the Telecom Department has issued to circular in apparent compliance with another Supreme Court order, dated 06/02/2017, in the case of Lokniti Foundation vs the Union of India (WP 607 of 2016), the Order of the Court in Lokniti Foundation, being that of a smaller Bench (2 judge) cannot be deemed to have overruled the Order of the SC in the 5 judge bench stated above. 
Finance Bill 2017 (without latest amendment suggested by Sri. Jaitley)
[Article last updated: 24/03/2017]