Vol. I : latest from courts, parliament and the grassroots

We are almost at the end of August, and the wait for the Supreme Court Constitution Bench's judgment in the final Aadhaar hearings continues. All we know for now is that the judgment will be out, and soon...

Most recently the Delhi High Court issued notice to the UIDAI and the Union government on a petition filed by academic Shamnad Basheer, seeking allowing people to opt out and request deletion of existing Aadhaar data, and asking for payment of exemplary damages for all Aadhaar data breaches.

The Income Tax department finally allowed online filing of tax returns without quoting the Aadhaar number, as stipulated by the Supreme Court last year in Binoy Viswam for those without Aadhaar. Multiple petitions were filed all over the country, with courts granting relief for petitioners alone, until finally on 24th July 2018, a two judge bench of the Delhi High Court in Shreya Sen v. Union of India directed the Central Board of Direct Taxes (CBDT) to rework their software so that people can file their tax returns online without having to furnish their UID number or any proof of having enrolled.They said it: "This court is of the opinion that at least till 31.3.2019, the CBDT shall issue an appropriate direction, and also create a platform by amending the digital form of (sic or) substituting them properly to enable ‘opt-out’ from the mandatory requirement of having to furnish Aadhaar registration or Aadhaar linkage, for the duration, the exemption subsists, that is, till 31.3.2019."

While the CBDT seemed in no hurry to follow the order of the court, one of us tried to file returns online, and to our pleasant surprise, Aadhaar was not required!

We strongly recommend that those still waiting to file their tax returns make their accountants and/or tax consultants aware of the latest court order and aim to file their returns without quoting Aadhaar.


I. Updates from Parliament

From misinterpreting the Supreme Court's judgments and misleading citizens to link Aadhaar with mobile phones to the open challenge issued by the TRAI Chairman Ram Sewak Sharma, many issues around Aadhaar were raised and discussed in Parliament in the recently concluded Monsoon Session. Some highlights:



II. Protests against ICDS-Aadhaar linking in Gujarat

A group of concerned citizens from Gujarat had begun investigating the Aadhaar scheme in 2017. On 17th April 2018, the Gujarat State ICDS Department released a circular mandating production of Aadhaar for disbursement of salary. The department wanted Anganwadi workers to open new accounts that were Aadhaar linked into which they could transfer salaries through DBT, and demanded that Anganwadi workers submit photocopies of Aadhaar cards to the ICDS department. Four Anganwadi workers reached out to the group of concerned citizens asking for help in resisting the order making Aadhaar mandatory because they believed Aadhaar was a breach of their privacy.

Integrated Child Development Service (ICDS) is a government programme in India which provides food, preschool education and primary education to children under 6 years of age and their mothers. The ICDS department governs and manages various sub-schemes including Anganwadi services. The salaries of Anganwadi workers had been stopped for the past 3 months due to non-linking of Aadhaar. After forcefully imposing this scheme, some of workers were given the choice of either submitting their Aadhaar or quitting the job. Such coercion was not limited to salaries alone - they were also mentally tortured to submit their Aadhaar card and collect Aadhaar cards of their students by any means necessary.

Activists from the area report that they had met the Department’s Director at the Gandhinagar office several times and were initially given assurances that salaries would not be stopped. In their latest meeting, however, officials stated that salaries would not be disbursed until and unless Aadhaar cards were linked. The Anganwadi workers have tried to submit other government IDs such as Voter ID, Ration card, etc. but have been refused their salaries until submission of their Aadhaar cards.

A petition challenging this mandatory linking has been filed by one of the Anganwadi workers in the Gujarat High Court.

The team of concerned citizens has been reaching out to those affected when Aadhaar is made mandatory. Adil Patel in Gujarat can be reached on 09638177097.


III. Aadhaar Fraud in PDS

On 26.08.2018, the Times Of India reported:

TOI PDS Fraud.jpg

Vol. II of this update on how to delink your bank account and aadhaar number, data protection, and more will follow soon.