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Renuka Gupta ( Gender Researcher )     29 September 2010

Eminent Personalities against UNIQUE Identity Numbers( UID )

Eminent Personalities Against unique identity number’ (UID

The project that proposes to give every resident a `unique identity number’
is a matter of great concern for those working on issues of food security,
NREGA, migration, technology, decentralisation, constitutionalism, civil
liberties and human rights. The process of setting up the Authority has
resulted in very little, if any, discussion about this project and its
effects and fallout. The documents on the UIDAI website, and a recent draft
law (the National Identification Authority Bill, which is also on the
website) do not provide answers to the many questions that are being raised
in the public domain. This project is intended to collect demographic data
about all residents in the country. It is said that it will impact on the
PDS and NREGA programmes, and plug leakages and save the government large
sums of money. It would, however, seem that even basic procedures have not
been followed before launching on such a massive project.

Before it goes any further, we consider it imperative that the following be

• Do a feasibility study: There are claims made in relation to the project,
about what it can do for PDS and NREGA, for instance, which does not reflect
any understanding of the situation of the situation on the ground. The
project documents do not say what other effects the project may have,
including its potential to be intrusive and violative of privacy, who may
handle the data (there will be multiple persons involved in entering,
maintaining and using the data), who may be able to have access to the data
and similar other questions.

• Do a cost:benefit analysis: It is reported that the UIDAI estimates the
project will costs Rs 45,000 crores to the exchequer in the next 4 years.
This does not seem to include the costs that will be incurred by Registrars,
Enrollers, internal systems costs that the PDs system will have to budget if
it is to be able to use the UID, the estimated cost to the end user and to
the number holder.

• In a system such as this, a mere statement that the UIDAI will deal with
the security of the data is obviously insufficient. How does the UIDAI
propose to deal with data theft? If this security cannot be reasonably
guaranteed, the wisdom of holding such data in a central registry may need
to be reviewed.

• The involvement of firms such as Ernst & Young and Accenture raise further
questions about who will have access to the data, and what that means to the
people of India.

• Constitutionality of this project, including in the matter of privacy, the
relationship between the state and the people, security and other
fundamental rights.

Questions have been raised which have not been addressed so far, including
those about –
• Undemocratic process: UIDAI was set-up via a GoI notification as an
attached office of the Planning Commission without any discussion or debate
in the Parliament or civil society. In the year and a half of its inception,
the Authority has signed MoUs with virtually all states and UTs, LIC,
Petroleum Ministry and many banks. In July, the Authority circulated the
draft NIA Bill (to achieve statutory status); the window for public feedback
was two weeks. Despite widespread feedback and calls for making all feedback
public, the Authority has not made feedback available. Further in direct
contravention to the process of public feedback, the NIA Bill was listed for
introduction in the Lok Sabha 2010 monsoon session

• Privacy (It is only now that the DoPT is said to be working on a draft of
a privacy law, but nothing is out for discussion even yet)

• Surveillance: where this technology, and the existence of the UID number,
and its working, could result in increasing the potential for surveillance

• Profiling
• Tracking

• Convergence, by which those with access to state power, as well as
companies, could collate information about each individual with the help of
the UID number.

National IDs have been abandoned in the US, Australia and the newly-elected
British government. The reasons have predominantly been: costs and privacy.
If it is too expensive for the US with a population of 308 million, and the
UK with 61 million people, and Australia with 21 million people, it is being
asked why India thinks it can prioritise its spending in this direction. In
the UK, the Home Secretary explained that they were abandoning the project
because it would otherwise be `intrusive bullying’ by the state, and that
the government intended to be the `servant’ of the people, and not their
`master’. Is there a lesson in it for us? In the late nineties, the Supreme
Court of Philippines struck down the President’s Executive Order A.O 308
which instituted a biometric based national ID system calling it
unconstitutional on two grounds – the overreach of the executive over the
legislative powers of the congress and invasion of privacy. The same is
applicable in India – UIDAI has been constituted on the basis of a GoI
notification and there is a fundamental risk to civil liberties with the
convergence of UID, NATGRID etc.

The UIDAI is still at the stage of conducting pilot studies. The biometric
pilot study has reportedly already thrown up problems especially among the
poor whose fingerprints are not stable, and whose iris scans suffer from
malnourishment related cataract and among whom the incidence of corneal
scars is often found. The project is clearly still in its inception. The
project should be halted before it goes any further and the prelude to the
project be attended to, the public informed and consulted, and the wisdom of
the project determined. The Draft Bill too needs to be publicly debated.
This is a project that could change the status of the people in this
country, with effects on our security and constitutional rights, and a
consideration of all aspects of the project should be undertaken with this
in mind.

We, therefore, ask that:
• The project be halted
• A feasibility study be done covering all aspects of this issue
• Experts be tasked with studying its constitutionality
• The law on privacy be urgently worked on (this will affect matters way
beyond the UID project)
• A cost : benefit analysis be done
• A public, informed debate be conducted before any such major change be
brought in.

List of signatories of a statement on the UID
Justice VR Krishna Iyer, Retired Judge, Supreme Court of India
Prof Romila Thapar, Historian
K.G.Kannabiran, Senior Civil Liberties Lawyer
Kavita Srivastava, PUCL and Right to Food Campaign
Aruna Roy, MKKS, Rajasthan
Nikhil Dey, MKKS, Rajasthan
S.R.Sankaran, Retired Secretary, Government of India
Deep Joshi, Independent Consultant
Upendra Baxi, Jurist and ex-Vice Chancellor of Universities of Surat and
Uma Chakravarthi, Historian
Shohini Ghosh, Teacher and Film Maker
Amar Kanwar, Film Maker
Bezwada Wilson, Safai Karamchari Andolan
Trilochan Sastry, IIMB, and Association for Democratic Reforms
Prof. Jagdish Chhokar, ex- IIMA, and Association for Democratic Rights
Shabnam Hashmi, ANHAD
Justice A.P.Shah, Retired Chief Justice of High Court of Delhi


 4 Replies

Democratic Indian (n/a)     29 September 2010

This UID thing is highly dangerous to the extent which people in India cannot even think or foresee now. It is not without any reasons why so many countries have rejected this concept. This is another long term "Common Wealth Games" by the corrupt in power. It will benefit them and the corporations who have and will get hefty contracts for implememting this undemocratic, unconstitutional provision, with grave security risks and privacy of citizens, to finish the freedom and liberty of people permanently in the hands of corrupt and criminals who want to rule this country for ever. I was reading somewhere on internet that UID data will also be processed in prisons. Everyone knows that prisons are also hotbeds of recruitment of gang members for the underworld. So one should not be surprised if such private data reaches into the hands of underworld and criminals.

Just a small example has been wisely given at this link: https://www.lawyersclubindia.com/forum/ID-Card-of-Future-Indian--23260.asp

All citizens should strongly protest this undemocaratic move.

Arup (UNEMPLOYED)     30 September 2010

"This is another long term "Common Wealth Games" by the corrupt in power".


1 Like


They haven't yet learnt how to make correct voter ID cards, this UID is a scam in the offing.

1 Like

Amit singh (student)     17 August 2011

our govt. just announce for every thingh but fail to provide guidence for the proper implementation of the same.

Due to this the main problem every people will face in the recent time is with in 3 to 6 months every organisation Govt./Non govt. will make it compulsory. 

And Citizen of india are not aware about it. & it's legal implication.

though govt. is saying it is not a mandatory document but these organisations will make it mandatory

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