Tyranny of Aadhaar newsletter Feb 2018 edition, volume 1

The Tyranny of Aadhaar newsletter brings you the real state of Aadhaar roll-out and how it affects crores of Indians across states. So far, the only real beneficiary of Aadhaar is: the State & Corporates, not the citizens. We share relevant data, and findings from the ground on experience of citizens in the Aadhaar project to sift through the false claims made about the biometrics project.

Dear friends and subscribers, The March 31, 2018, deadline for linking Aadhaar to various essential services is nearing, which we are sure is a cause for anxiety. We hope this comprehensive newsletter will help you navigate the Aadhaar mess - as always, please feel free to write in with your questions and concerns. (Download the newsletter as a pdf here.)

Our sincere recommendation: Do not link your UID/ Aadhaar anywhere yet!

Worried about the looming deadline?

DON’T BE! Over 50% of bank accounts are not Aadhaar-linked, despite intensifying coercion

The Economic Times misreported that a petition asking for extension of Aadhaar linking deadlines beyond March 31 has been rejected by the Supreme Court. This is completely untrue: the hearings are still going on, and no order / judgment has yet been passed. On the contrary, the Supreme Court has indicated that it would take up the issue of extension at a later date. Advocate Gautam Bhatia has tweeted about this here.


Denying citizens information

In addition to denying food, medical aid, and other entitlements for lack of Aadhaar linking, the government has also been denying information about the Aadhaar scheme. RTI requests are being refused, or answered with fudged data, reinforcing citizens’ concerns that the project is a complete sham.
A simple query about the amount spent by the UIDAI on advertising and publicity was refused on the grounds that this information was a trade secret or intellectual property. Another crucial RTI question on the amount paid - from taxpayers’ money - to Vidhi Centre for Legal Policy for representing the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India in the Aadhaar cases was denied on the grounds that such information is not available!


Looking forward to 2020 – the new Indian Police State

The SRDHs are not protected by any law in most of these states. UIDAI's documents suggest SRDH to be used for 360° profiling of residents under a project named Servam. In Telangana, the police have announced that even traffic offences will be recorded and used against issual of passports and visas for travel abroad.

State Resident Data Hubs shut?

Advocate Rakesh Trivedi, representing the Govt. of Gujarat, stated in the Supreme Court that State Resident Data Hubs, which are UIDAI-sponsored Aadhaar databases parallel to the Central Identities Data Repository, do not exist anymore and the data has been deleted. Since no databases have ever been shut down since the promulgation of the Aadhaar scheme, this statement is crucial, as it opens up the possibility that the SC can order that the Aadhaar scheme itself should be shut down.


Impact on social welfare

Delhi Government Says Aadhaar not mandatory to avail rations

Soon after the public hearing, the Delhi Government announced that Aadhaar would no longer be mandatorily required to obtain rations. Unfortunately, no notification to this effect has been issued so far. On the contrary, it appears that iris scanning machines are being installed in ration shops across Delhi.

Delhi Public Hearing by the Delhi Right to Food Campaign & Satark Nagrik Sangathan

 On February 5, the Delhi Rozi Roti Adhikar Abhiyan (DRRAA) and the Satark Nagrik Sangathan, along with other groups, organised a public hearing on the exclusions caused as a result of Aadhaar being made mandatory to access rations under the National Food Security Act. More than 400 people from marginalised communities participated and testified about their inability to access their legal entitlements since the introduction of Aadhaar due to failure of biometric authentication and Aadhaar glitches. According to RTI activist Anjali Bharadwaj, Delhi government’s own data of Jan. 2018 shows that biometric authentication via Point Of Sale(POS) biometric machines failed for over 36,000 ration cards affecting ~1 lakh people. Further, while there are 19.5 lakh ration cards issued in Delhi, the government’s data on POS transactions only accounts for 15.5 lakh cards. This implies that, despite being linked to Aadhaar (and thereby genuine by the government’s own admission) 4 lakh ration cards haven't procured rations for Jan 2018.

A full report of the public hearing can be accessed here (Dropbox) and here (Google Drive).


Denial of rations due to Aadhaar continues in Karnataka

Food ration card holders in Karnataka are being denied their rations for not linking their Aadhaar to ration cards. “The idea here is 'Give Aadhaar or you don’t get ration',” says Shashiraj, an activist from Chintamani, who estimates that there are hundreds who have been denied rations because of various reasons that eventually boils down to lack of an Aadhaar link. For some, it is the lack of an Aadhaar, for some others the biometric fails. But in the end the result is the same - exclusion from food.” Read more here - When Red Tape Creates Hunger

Rural reporting network PARI investigates Aadhaar mess in Andhra Pradesh

The coercive linking of Aadhaar with such entitlements as rations and MGNREGA job cards has resulted in widespread errors, and potentially even large scale fraud. Rural workers end up suffering due to this though the public is told, they are the ones supposed to benefit from these new systems. Read this report to know about their lives. Fake ration cards or faulty Aadhaar data?


More proof that Aadhaar is not unique

It is called a Unique ID, but what happens when two people have the same Aadhaar number?

Two people, same Aadhaar number; MGNREGA wage goes to wrong person

Also: "A Chandigarh couple was left bemused on receiving two Aadhaar cards via post yesterday, registered in the name of their two-year-old son Pranav Saini. “We do not know which one of these Aadhaar cards is authentic and can be used as identity proof of our son,” said the toddler’s father Parveen Kumar Saini" UIDAI goof-up: Twin Aadhaar for toddler

Cash transfers replacing PDS

The Aadhaar scheme will be used to promote cash transfers and not for distributing rations through the PDS. While many see this as a welcome move towards greater efficiency, others see it as taking away welfare for dubious savings while corporate frauds keep going unpunished. What do the people who actually use cash transfers have to say?

Watch: Food or cash? 97% of people surveyed in this Jharkhand block had the same answer

Thousands of residents of Nagri Block in Ranchi District marched over 10 km to the Jharkhand CM R Das’s house to protest against the Aadhaar-linked “DBT for food subsidy” experiment which has caused havoc in past four months. While the march, under the banner of Ration Bachao Manch, comprised opposition parties and people’s organisations including the Right to Food Campaign, the main actors, were be the DBT victims themselves, whose protests and agitations the over the last 4 months are being ignored by the administration.


आधार नहीं तो इलाज नहीं (No Aadhaar, No medical treatment)

दिल्ली में कई ऐसे एचआईवी पॉजिटिव मरीज हैं जिन्हें आधार नहीं होने की वजह से मुफ्त दवाइयां नहीं मिलतीं. साथ ही इन्हें कोई सरकारी पेंशन नहीं मिलती.




A data journalist is building a public database chronicling Aadhaar failures in order to analyse:

  1. Instances of Aadhaar failures
  2. Mapping the locations of the Aadhaar fails
  3. Sorting Aadhaar failures and finding patterns

If you have been affected in any way by Aadhaar issues, or know someone who has, please get in touch with us. Email: contact@rethinkaadhaar.in, Twitter: @no2uid



When the hearing concluded on Day 13, senior counsel pressed the Court for extending the March 31 deadline. Justice Sikri said he was getting nearly 10 messages everyday too! CJI Misra responded that an appropriate interim order would be passed at the time of reserving for judgment.

Live law coverage

Medianama coverage

On March 6, the Supreme Court’s Constitution Bench will continue hearing petitioners’ submissions in the ongoing Aadhaar cases. In the 13 days of hearings, Senior Advocates Shyam Divan, Kapil Sibal, and Gopal Subramaniam have made submissions. Here are the key highlights from the submissions since January 17:

  1. If the Aadhaar scheme and Act continue unchecked, they can “hollow out the Constitution” (Sen. Adv. Shyam Divan, Day 1)
  2. Can the State delegate a “core sovereign function” of collecting biometric data of citizens to private agencies? (Sen. Adv. Shyam Divan, Day 2)
  3. “The Justice K. S. Puttaswamy judgment lays down that any encroachment on the right to privacy must be backed by a valid law. Section 59 attempting to accomplish that in respect of the pre-Act breaches is in the nature of legal fiction.” (Justice DY Chandrachud, Day 4)
  4. Specific details about the Central Identities Data Repository (CIDR) are not in the public domain because of national security concerns. The source code of the CIDR is proprietary and not owned by the UIDAI. (Day 4)
  5. “Can the State say you must identify yourself in this one manner, or I won’t recognise you any more?” (Sen. Adv. Shyam Divan, Day 5)
  6. “Today I am addressing five constitutionalist judges. But if Aadhaar is upheld, then after twenty-five years the Supreme Court would be packed with Aadhaar judges” (Sen. Adv. Shyam Divan, Day 6, discussing Aadhaar enabling profiling by the government)
  7. That Aadhaar itself causes exclusions can be argued to be a violation of Article 14 – the fundamental right to equality, and against discrimination. (Day 7)
  8. “What might be appropriate for fighting crime and terrorism is inappropriate for the daily interactions between citizen and State” (Sen. Adv. Kapil Sibal, Day 8)
  9. You cannot barter or surrender one fundamental right to gain another (Day 10)
  10. Aadhaar makes a person an un-person (Day 10)
  11. Aadhaar’s ability to negate personhood causes not only civil death but also Constitutional death. (Day 11)
  12. Even a benevolent state cannot guarantee the benevolence of an algorithm which it does not and cannot control, thus [the Aadhaar project] is architecturally unconstitutional. (Day 11)
  13. Exclusion in constitutional parlance is discrimination. Any Act that leads to discrimination even with the best of intentions will have to go! (Sen. Adv. Gopal Subramaniam, Day 11)
  14. This [Aadhaar] Act has an element of objectification and de-personalization of the individual. If a person can exist independent of Aadhaar, and if the Act does not accommodate that possibility, then it must go! (Sen. Adv. Gopal Subramaniam, Day 12)
  15. The bench must consider granting compensation to citizens who have suffered on the ground of exclusion, particularly instances of starvation deaths. (Sen. Adv. Gopal Subramaniam, Day 13)

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