Friday, July 27, 2012

Adverse consequences of UID, NPR & NCTC


The Editor
The Telegraph

Sub-Adverse consequences of UID, NPR & NCTC

Dear Editor,

This is with reference to news item "Fresh scheme for unique identity" (July 26 , 2012, The Telegraph, Patna), I wish to inform you that about factual inaccuracies in the story but before I do that let me appreciate the revelation that "A year after the commencement of the UID project in the state and coverage of less than one per cent of the total population, it has been wind up."

The opening sentence of the news story reads: "The citizens yet to be covered by the Unique Identification Number (UID) project in the state would get Aadhar numbers through National Population Register (NPR) scheme."

The fact is Unique Identification Number (UID) project for Centralized Identities Data Register (CIDR) was never meant to cover citizens. Its mandate was/is to cover residents. Admittedly, UID Number is not a proof of citizenship. It is just an identifier.

The story reads: "The rest of the residents of the state would now be issued Aadhaar numbers and the corresponding “resident identity cards” on the basis of the NPR — a comprehensive identity database maintained by the registrar general and census commissioner of India under the ministry of home affairs."

It also reads: "According to sources, the NPR project comprises three steps — collection of demographic data, collection of biometric data and issue of Aadhaar numbers."

The fact is that the legality of collection of biometric data for both UID/Aadhaar and National Population Register (NPR) for cards without any legislative mandate has been questioned by the Parliamentary Standing Committee (PSC) on Finance in its report submitted to the Parliament.

The fact is NPR is unfolding under Citizenship Act and Citizenship Rules. The Report of PSC reads (in the section on ‘Observations/ Recommendations): “The collection of biometric information and its linkage with personal information without amendment to the Citizenship Act 1955 as well as the Citizenship (Registration of Citizens and Issue of National Identity Cards) Rules 2003, appears to be beyond the scope of subordinate legislation, which needs to be examined in detail by Parliament.”

As to "a comprehensive identity database maintained by the registrar general and census commissioner of India under the ministry of home affairs." The fact is Census Commissioner is supposed to gather the data of population under the Census Act, 1948 on the pre-condition that it would be kept secret and it will not be revealed even to the courts.The data collected under Census Act is confidential as per Section 15 of the Act.

I submit that in order to provide for a dignified treatment of the citizens of India respecting their privacy, Section 15 of the Census Act establishes that “Records of census not open to inspection nor admissible in evidence”. It reads: No person shall have a right to inspect any book, register or record made by a census-officer in the discharge of his duty as such, or any schedule delivered under section 10 and notwithstanding anything to the contrary in the Indian Evidence Act, 1872, no entry in any such book, register, record or schedule shall be admissible as evidence in any civil proceeding whatsoever or in any criminal proceeding other than a prosecution under this Act or any other law for any act or omission which constitutes an offence under this Act." Demolishing this dignity of the citizens, the NPR project of Union Home Ministry is dehumanizing citizens by according them a status inferior to that of prisoners.

I submit that quite like prisoners whose biometric data like finger prints can be collected only under the Identification of Prisoners Act, it is quite outrageous that UID and NPR is taking biometric data of every resident and citizen of India disregarding absence of any legislative mandate for it.

I wish to draw your attention towards the fact that Government of Gujarat has stopped collection of biometric data for creation of the NPR.

The fact is that NPR and Unique Identification (UID)/Aadhhar are linked because column 7 of Aadhaar Enrolement Form refers to it.
It has been noted that “In the absence of any provision in the Citizenship Act, 1955, or rules for capturing biometrics, it is difficult to appreciate how the capture of biometrics is a statutory requirement. Photography and biometrics is only mentioned in the Manual of Instructions for filling up the NPR household schedule and even in that there is no mention of capturing the Iris”.

I submit that in the case of prisoners their biometric data is required to be destroyed on their acquittal but in the case of NPR and Centralized Identities Register (CIDR) of UID/Aadhaar Number, the same will be recorded for ever. Are residents and citizens worse than prisoners?

The data collection for preparation of NPR is undertaken along with the House listing Operations of Census 2011. It categorically states that “NPR will contain the details of all the ’usual residents’ of the country regardless of whether they are citizens or non-citizens.” If that is the case how can it qualify to be an act under the Citizenship Act and Rules given the fact that the Register will have both citizens and non-citizens?

As per the Manual, NPR’s utility lies in creation of “a comprehensive identity database in the country. This would not only strengthen security of the country but also help in better targeting of the benefits and services under the Government schemes/programmes and improve planning.” It further states, “It may be noted that nationality declared by respondent does not confer any right to Indian Citizenship”. In such a case isn’t Census itself quite sufficient for it?
It may be noted that the Identification of Prisoners Act provides that “Every person who has been, (a) convicted of any offence punishable with rigorous imprisonment for a term of one year or upwards, or of any offence which would render him liable to enhanced punishment on a subsequent conviction, or (b) ordered to give security for his good behaviour under Section 118 of the Code of Criminal Procedure, 1898, shall, if so required, allow his measurements and photograph to be taken by a Police Officer in the prescribed manner.”

As per Section 7 of Identification of Prisoners Act, “Where any person who, not having been previously convicted of an offence punishable with rigorous imprisonment for a term of one year or upwards, has had his measurements taken or has been photographed in accordance with the provisions of this Act is released without trial or discharged or acquitted by any court, all measurements and all photographs (both negatives and copies) so taken shall, unless the court or (in a case where such person is released without trial) the District Magistrate or Sub-divisional Officer for reasons to be recorded in writing otherwise directs, be destroyed or made over to him.” In the case of both UID and NPR it will be stored forever.
The news report reveals that "Unique Identification Authority of India (UIDAI) has been entrusted with the registration of 60 crore citizens and the remaining 60 crores citizens will be registered under the NPR project." The fact is that it is unfolding illegally without any mandate from central or state's legislatures.

The news report quotes an official saying, “After the completion of the first phase of the UID project on March 31, 2012, the registration authorities decided that the citizen registration in Bihar would now be covered by the NPR. Total 18.8 lakh citizens of the state were registered in the first phase of the UID project. Of them, as many as 18 lakh citizens have been delivered Aadhaar numbers. The rest of the applicants would be delivered their numbers within our set deadline of first week of August. Moreover, we have recently received a communiqué from our headquarters informing about non- inclusion of Bihar in the second phase of the UID. Acting upon it, the entire set-up of the UID registration across the state have been winded up and 4G Identity Solutions — the agency undertaking the biometric registration in the state— has taken back all the equipment to its headquarters in Hyderabad.” Will it not be appropriate if the state government constituted an inquiry committee to find out as to whether only equipments have been taken away and not the data of residents of the State. This merits probe because data is a precious commodity.

I wish to inform you that Bihar government's memorandum of understanding (MoU) with the UIDAI on August 20, 2010 is illegal and is in contempt of Parliament.

It is quite a disclosure that "Aadhaar — a 12-digit individual identification number — would provide a universal identity for an individual and can be utilised for over 600 services in the country." Has these 600 services been identified? If so why has it not been disclosed so far.

Taking cognizance of the above mentioned facts and circumstances, I wish to inform you that all freedom loving Indians are opposed to Aadhaar and related initiatives of Home Ministry like NPR, proposed Human DNA Profiling Bill, 2012, National Intelligence Grid (NATGRID) and National Counter Terrorism Centre (NCTC) and the approval of Union Surface Transport Ministry for Radio Frequency Identification (RFID) due to following reasons:

It is a threat to privacy, civil liberties, federalism, national security, sovereignty and constitution

It is without democratic, parliamentary, legal and constitutional sanction

It facilitates emergence of a Database, Surveillance State and Property based Democracy

It is anti-poor and anti-citizen as it dismantles Public Distribution System and other existing social service entitlements

It promotes outsourcing of governance

It is fraught with dangers of genocide and communal crisis

It is guided by undemocratic international financial institutions and defence policies of other nuclear weapon holding countries

It will lead to adverse consequences of participation by foreign companies and biometric technology providers and collection of biometric data is an act violation of human rights that turns citizens into subjects and treats them worse than prisoners. The personal and biometric data being outsourced to third parties (including foreign companies) represents an unacceptable security risk for the people in this country, and for the nation itself

It compromises citizens’ rights of present and future generations

It is a boondoggle, an unnecessary and wasteful project for citizens as it transfers public money to private parties

It may be noted that Shri A K Doval, former director, Intelligence Bureau has revealed that Aadhaar was 'intended to wash out the aliens and unauthorised people... Now, it is being projected as more development-oriented, lest it ruffle any feathers' but he welcomes the deception. The UIDs and NPRs will be fed into a database to be shared with NATGRID (National Intelligence Grid), which includes 11 security and intelligence agencies (Intelligence Bureau, Research and Analysis Wing, CBI, Central Boards of Excise and Direct Taxes, etc). NATGRID will provide real-time access into 21 databases -- including bank account details, credit card transactions, driving licences, and travel records. All this will act as a backbone for NCTC.

The core question is a state which is opposed to NCTC, how can it be in favour of UID/NPR given the fact that both are two ends of the same rope.

Gopal Krishna

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