The Finance Ministry has yet again extended the deadline by which people can link their Aadhaar numbers to PAN, until December 31, 2019. Rethink Aadhaar maintains that such linking is disproportionate and unconstitutional. A challenge to such linking is being heard in the Karnataka High Court wherein the Central Board of Direct Taxes (CBDT) has asked for more time to respond. The HC has directed the CBDT not to take any action against the petitioners for not linking Aadhaar to PAN until the hearing is complete.
Last year, we created the Article 21 Trust as an engine that could power further struggles to counter the impact of Aadhaar and other civil technologies on human rights – in particular the right to life, liberty, and livelihood (as the name of the Trust might suggest). Article 21 will support Rethink Aadhaar through fundraising as well as working on necessary research.
On July 16, the Delhi High Court directed the Election Commission of India (ECI), to consider a plea for an Aadhaar-based voting system, in response to a PIL filed by BJP member Ashwini Kumar Upadhyay. The petition “proposes an e-voting system using fingerprint and face biometric” and, for that purpose, linking of Aadhaar number with voter ID. Such a system, the petition claims, will lead to an increase in voting percentage while also preventing bogus or fraudulent voting.
While the government is trying hard to crush every voice against Aadhaar, one person from Mumbai not only fought, but also won against the government's mandatory linking policy. Hear Mr Ramesh Kurhade of Mumbai Port Trust as he shares the story of his unwavering fight against Aadhaar.
A number of concerned citizens and NGOs have come together to felicitate Mr Kurhade in the hope that his experience will give courage to others. The felicitation and his talk will be followed by brief interventions from additional speakers: Dr. Anupam Saraph, Vickram Crishna, Raghu (aka godavar), Vidyut Gore, Elisha Ebenezer, and more.
We are alarmed and concerned at the government’s vision to collate comprehensive, exhaustive data about every citizen and making it available for commercial use by private entities as stated in the budget document the Economic Survey 2018-19 published on July 4. Chapter 4 of the Economic Survey (a budget document laid before parliament) Data “Of the People, By the People, For the People argues for expanding collection and interlinking of comprehensive data on citizens, violating Supreme Court judgments on privacy and Aadhaar.
Rethink Aadhaar has been reaching out to several Members of Parliament (MPs) requesting them to demand that the Bill be sent to a Parliamentary Standing Committee, so as to ensure a thorough public consultation. Yet, while the government insists "Indians have accepted Aadhaar" - and enjoys numerical superiority in the Lok Sabha - we need to collectively raise our voices and denounce Aadhaar in the strongest terms, and ensure that our representatives echo us.
While we continue to wait for a favorable review of the judgement upholding PAN-Aadhaar linking, many citizens are opposing this rule in the spirit of civil disobedience against enrolling in a project which poses a lifelong threat for one’s personal security. There is much evidence that raises serious concerns about potential loss of identity, fraud (including identity fraud), and privacy. This is apart from the deeply problematic nature of both the manner in which enrollments have happened and continue to happen.
Late in the evening of February 28, 2019, in the midst of a critical situation at the Indian border, the Central Government issued the Aadhaar and Other Laws (Amendment) Ordinance, 2019, which seeks to revive the commercial use of the biometrics-linked 12-digit Aadhaar number which the Supreme Court had specifically struck down as being unconstitutional in September 2018. By promulgating this ordinance, the government is attempting to push through the Amendments to the Aadhaar Act, which it had failed to pass through Parliament and in particular the Rajya Sabha where it lacks a majority. The passage of this ordinance shows the Central government’s contempt of democratic and legislative institutions and signals the further weakening of our most basic democratic structures.
Hundreds of Adivasi farmers protest denial of foodgrain by use of Aadhaar in Public Distribution System
Hundreds of Adivasis of several villages of Jharkhand’s Khuntpani block (West Singhbhum district) protested at the block administration’s office on February 28 against the denial of ration, use of Aadhaar and other irregularities in the Public Distribution System.
Ration has not been distributed in some villages since several months. Cardholders of Ulirajabasa did not get ration in September-December 2018 and February 2019, one month in 2017 and three months in 2016. People of Ankolkuti have not received their grain entitlements for August-September and November-December 2018.