Modi Govt’s Surveillance Tool Quashed: Congress Party
| Indian Observer Post - 26 Sep 2018

Modi Govt’s Surveillance Tool Quashed: Congress Party

Full statement issued by Ashok Gehlot, Kapil Sibal, and Randeep Singh Surjewala

 

Indian Observer Post

New Delhi, Sept 26, 2018: The Congress Party has welcomed the decision of the Hon’ble Supreme Court on the validity of the Aadhar Act. Hailing the apex court verdict on Aadhar Act, the Congress party said in a statement issued here on Wednesday, “The Congress Party stands for an Aadhar which is voluntary and backed by a valid law”.

“It stands for an Aadhar which provides a genuinely stable, secure and viable alternative to existing forms of identification aimed at making it the most important tool for delivery of benefits rather than invasion of privacy,” Congress leaders Ashok Gehlot, Kapil Sibal, and Randeep Singh Surjewala said in a joint statement issued in Delhi.

Here is the full statement issued by the Congress party:

Modi Government’s Surveillance Tool; Section 57 quashed putting an end to abuse of power being exercised by the Central Government.

The Hon’ble SC has firmly put an end to the mass surveillance exercise being carried out under the guise of Aadhar by the Central Government and the grotesque distortion of an idea conceived by the UPA.

I. The salient points are as follows:

  • Aadhar cannot be made mandatory for mobile phones and bank linking. The Congress led UPA’s vision of Adhaar was always voluntary and never mandatory. 
  • This is an endorsement of the UPA’s vision for Aadhar and a rejection of the NDA’s clumsy attempt to gather meta data on its citizens without any rationale.
  • The Majority has unanimously agreed that the decisions of the Speaker of the Lok Sabha can be subject to judicial review. This is the very first time that a Constitutional Bench has held so.
  • This marks the beginning of a new era of accountability for the Speaker who so far was beyond reproach. The Supreme Court has upheld the arguments put forth by the Congress Party in this regard.
  • Section 57 which allowed private companies to demand Aadhar has been struck down as unconstitutional. This is important because the BJP Government was pushing its agenda of mass convergence through the intimidation of private companies which had begun insisting on Aadhar details.
  • No body shall be denied entitlements or disqualified from the benefit of schemes for the absence of an Aadhar number. An insensitive BJP Government had insisted on Aadhar for schemes targeted the poorest of the poor. As a result, close to 25 indigent individuals died due to starvation from denial of benefits in the last 4 years. Compare this to the UPA’s Aadhar which never penalized/ punished those who did not possess an Aadhar.

II. Observations on the Misuse of Money Bill Route

  • While 4 learned judges of the Supreme Court have upheld the classification of the Act as a ‘Money Bill’, Justice DY Chandrachud has dissented calling it a “debasement of the democratic structure” which renders the Act an “illegality”.
  • Justice DY Chandrachud has also held that passage of bills in such a manner by the Government is a way of undermining the role of Parliament and Parliamentarians.
  • This is a scathing indictment of this Government’s clandestine and dishonest approach to its Parliamentary responsibilities. In doing so, and when read with the decision of the entire bench, this opens the door for several challenges to the Speakers arbitrary decisions and has effectively changed that law as it existed on the subject.

 

III. Congress Party’s Undeniable Commitment to Fight for the poor and Disenfranchised

The Congress Party will continue to fight for the causes of the poor and disenfranchised. Both within and outside Parliament. The Congress has been clear that the passage of the law violates both the fundamental right to privacy and is a gross abuse of the Money Bill route. 

In this regard, the Congress pledges to examine the law and its provisions to adhere to the stated objectives of ensuring direct benefit of governmental schemes to the poor and deprived while upholding the right to privacy in its entirety, upon coming back to office.

It must be remembered that this Government does not see Aadhar as a viable administrative tool for the delivery of benefits (as was originally intended by the UPA).

It sees it as a mechanism to be misused by forcibly collecting data from the public and harvesting the same for purposes of surveillance. That is why this Government, barely a year ago argued vehemently and unsuccessfully against a fundamental right to privacy.

The BJP Government was aware that their law on Aadhar could not pass parliamentary muster. That it why they classified it as a Money Bill to avoid voting in the Rajya Sabha where the BJP did not have a majority. 

The BJP knew the Congress would never approve a draconian and invasive version of its project to be abused in such a manner. While we respect the Court’s decision on this point, we are inclined to agree with Justice Chandrachud on the fact that the Act, per se, is an illegality.

Tags: Supreme Court Verdict on Aadhar Act; UPA; Forcibly collecting data; BJP Government; Aadhar; Money Bill; Rajya Sabha; Congress; Justice Chandrachud;


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