Wednesday, March 9, 2016

[Editorial # 80] Don’t compromise on privacy : The Hindu

[Following editorial has been published in The Hindu on 9th March 2016. Read through it and try to answer the questions that follow. Please do not copy and paste answers. The objective of this exercise is to get you in the groove of answer-writing. Try to write in your own words. Don't hesitate to write in a bulleted-format, if you are uncomfortable in writing in paragraph form.]

The Aadhaar Bill, which the government introduced in the Lok Sabha last week, has not come a day too soon. More than six years have passed since the first attempt was made to give legal validity to Aadhaar, an ambitious project that seeks to provide unique identification numbers to each individual in a country of over a billion people, collecting demographic and biometric information in the process. And through these years, amid many legal and political challenges and a change in government, over 98 crore numbers have been issued. The stated idea of the Aadhaar (Targeted Delivery of Financial and Other Subsidies, Benefits and Services) Bill, 2016, is to provide for “efficient, transparent, and targeted delivery of subsidies, benefits and services”. This, along with a clause that says the unique numbers will not be considered as proof of citizenship, is welcome. And yet, the process of legislating for Aadhaar has not been wholly reassuring. The Bill has attracted immediate criticism for being introduced as a money bill, by virtue of which it does not require approval of the Rajya Sabha, where the BJP-led government does not have the numbers to ensure its passage. Bypassing the Upper House’s vote does give the Bill an easy route to becoming law. The question is, given that Aadhaar was a signature project of the Congress-led UPA, could not the government have made the effort to reach out to lawmakers across the board on such a crucial, bipartisan issue?

Wider political consensus and scrutiny are vital. Section 7 of the Bill, for instance, makes proof of Aadhaar necessary for “receipt of certain subsidies, benefits and services”. This must be read in the backdrop of a Supreme Court ruling that said Aadhaar cannot be made mandatory. A key concern over the collection of personal information on this scale is data protection. There are provisions in this Bill that seem to address the concern, including one that prohibits any official from revealing information in the data repository to anyone. But the exceptions cause unease. Two provisions are particularly troubling. The first is Section 29(4), by which no Aadhaar number or biometric information will be made public “except for the purposes as may be specified by regulations”. The second, which experts have already flagged, is Section(33), under which the inbuilt confidentiality clauses will not stand when it concerns national security. The only reassurance could be that in such cases the direction has to come from an official who is not below the rank of a Joint Secretary to the government. Nonetheless, without robust laws to protect their data, citizens would be rendered vulnerable. It is not about just snooping. It is also being said that in order to be useful and effective, Aadhaar data might have to be used alongside other databases. That could trigger further privacy questions. There is little doubt that India needs to streamline the way it delivers benefits, and to empower citizens with a basic identification document. But this cannot be done without ensuring the strictest protection of privacy.


1. What is Adhaar Card? Who issues it? What is the purpose behind enrolment for Adhaar Card?

2. How can one get Adhaar Card? What is the procedure? Evaluate the complexity of such procedure from the perspective of a common man, especially people who lie at the bottom of the pyramid.

3. What all data is collected while enrolling for Adhaar Card? 

4. What are the various criticism about Adhaar Card? Are they just? Comment

5. Why is there a need of passing Aadhaar (Targeted Delivery of Financial and Other Subsidies, Benefits and Services) Bill, 2016? How does it make the Adhaar Card mechanism more effective?

6. What is a Money Bill? What are the criteria for declaring a bill as a Money Bill? Who is the final authority on declaring a Bill as a Money Bill? Why is Rajya Sabha not allowed to vote on a Money Bill? How is a Money Bill different from an Ordinary Bill?

7. What are various sections of the said bill which are being criticised? Are these criticisms just? Comment

8. "There is little doubt that India needs to streamline the way it delivers benefits, and to empower citizens with a basic identification document. But this cannot be done without ensuring the strictest protection of privacy". Comment (200 words)


  1. Aadhaar is a 12 digit individual identification number which is issued by the Unique Identification Authority of India.
    This will serve as a purpose of proof of identity and address, anywhere in India.
    An individual who is a resident of India irrespective of his/her age, gender and satisfies the verification process laid down by the UIDAI can enroll only once(Free of cost) for Aadhaar.
    It will be unique for each individual and will be valid for life. This will help as an acess to banking, phone connections and other govt and non-govt services.

  2. Application for Aadhaar card can be made anywhere in India. Firstly you can take online appointment for a nearby Aadhaar card center. If the Center near you doesn't have the facility to provide for online registration facility or you dont have the knowledge and source to book online appointment you can walk in to any nearby Aadhaar center without prior appointment.
    Documents required
    1 identity and 1 address proof. If someone doesn't have valid documents that person can still enroll provided his/her name exists in family entitlement document. So in that case head of the family needs to be enrolled first with valid identity and address proof document. Then the person so registered can introduce the remaining member of the family. If the head of the family or any member doesn't have any documennts help can be taken from Introducers available at the enrollment center. Application can form can be downloaded from internet and is provided at the Aadhaar card center.
    Photo, finger-prints and iris scan will be taken as part of the enrollment.
    After all this procedure you will get an acknowledgment slip with an temporary enrollment number and other details captured.

  3. Criticism against Aadhaar
    1.There is no Parliament approval for the bill. UIDAI enjoys only executive authority and no statutory authority.
    2. Arguments regarding no clarity of purpose, the lack of co-ordination between agencies has led to issuance of duplicate numbers and provison for providing Aadhar to persons who are not having documents is also criticized.
    3.There is no national data protection law. Since there is large scale collection of information of individuals.
    4.No study on financial implications of such project.
    5.Violation of privacy and civil liberties of people. Without actually explaining what are the other purposes for which such information can be used.

  4. Article 110 lays down definition of Money bills
    A bill is considered to be a money bill if it deals with any of the following:
    1.matters relating to Tax
    2.borrowing and lending by the Government of India
    3.matters related to Consolidated fund or Contingency Fund.
    4.any matter incidental to above three points.
    If there is any question whether a bill is a money bill or not decision of Speaker shall be final in that regard.
    Article 109 lays down special procedure with respect to Money bills
    It lays down that Money bill can only be introduced in House of the People. When the money bill is transmitted to council of state, it can provide recommendations on the bill which may or may not be accepted by the house of the people. Such recommendations have to be made within 14 days if not returned to the house of the people within such period it will be deemed to be passed.