India's Attorney-General: Privacy 'Not A Fundamental Right'

from the I-am-not-a-12-digit-number dept

Last month, we wrote about attempts by the Indian government to make Aadhaar, the country's identity number system, mandatory. This was despite repeated rulings by the Indian Supreme Court that it should not be compulsory for government schemes. Last month, another application was made to the court, asking it once more to forbid the Indian government from requiring the Aadhaar card and a unique 12-digit identification number for its services. During the case, India's Attorney-General, Mukul Rohatgi, made the following remarkable assertion, reported here by Hindustan Times:

"[India's] Constitution makers did not intend to make right to privacy a fundamental right," Rohatgi told the bench, during the hearing of petitions opposing a government order that made the 12-number unique identification number mandatory, especially for seeking government welfare benefits.
As the site Scroll.in explains:
The Attorney General quoted two decisions in support of his proposition -- from 1954 and 1963. Those opposing his argument contended that these decisions had been overtaken by the constitutional jurisprudence that had since evolved.
But as well as his purely legalistic arguments, Rohatgi took another, very different angle, telling the court:
It should balance the petitioner's rights against those of the roughly 700 million people, whose subsidies and welfare benefits were dependent on the "fool-proof scheme."
Despite this emotional blackmail -- give up your privacy, or 700 million people will go hungry -- the Indian Supreme Court's interim order confirmed that:
It is not mandatory for a citizen to obtain an Aadhaar card
and
the production of an Aadhaar card will not be a condition for obtaining any benefits otherwise due to a citizen.
However, the Supreme Court did allow the Aadhaar card and number to be used for a few specific government schemes: those for "distributing foodgrains and cooking fuel, such as kerosene." So perhaps people won't want for food or fuel even if campaigners continue to insist that privacy most certainly is a fundamental right, and that making Aadhaar mandatory would infringe upon it.

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  • identicon
    avideogameplayer, 20 Aug 2015 @ 12:18pm

    Well, I do see them implementing an ID system for its welfare thing, but otherwise...

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 20 Aug 2015 @ 1:36pm

      Re:

      ...I do see them implementing an ID system for its welfare thing, but otherwise...


      The US Social Security system when it was created was never intended to be an identity system, either. But look how that's turned out.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 20 Aug 2015 @ 12:32pm

    ahemm... well of course!

    Its never mandatory.... so that makes it okay to force people to give up privacy or OTHER rights to get it!

    Or you can just starve to death or worse!

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    ltlw0lf (profile), 20 Aug 2015 @ 12:40pm

    Privacy not a fundamental right

    Anyone who says this seriously needs to have 24 hour video surveillance and a GPS monitor. I am getting tired of hearing it. "If you have nothing to hide, you have nothing to fear." Cool, don't mind the 24/7 video drone following you with the video being piped to your own Truman-Show channel.

    You'll see how quickly they spin on their words when its them in the cross-hairs of surveillance. Just look at all the politicians and government employees that woke up this morning to the news that their email addresses were leaked from Ashley-Madison (whether or not that truly means anything, the news media is making a big deal out of it.)

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    nasch (profile), 20 Aug 2015 @ 2:06pm

    Not mandatory

    the production of an Aadhaar card will not be a condition for obtaining any benefits otherwise due to a citizen.

    No, but not having one will mean filling out six extra forms and a 4-6 week delay in getting your benefits. Or am I being too cynical?

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 20 Aug 2015 @ 7:53pm

      Re: Not mandatory

      Or maybe not cynical enough. Define something (say food) as a "fundamental human right" and suddenly it's not a right due to a citizen.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    andy, 20 Aug 2015 @ 4:03pm

    Proposal...

    I propose that ever time someone attacks our right to privacy that they allow the eff to install cameras everywhere they that person goes, their home their car their office, in fact have someone follow them around during their day with cameras recording every interaction with anyone else. I am sure after a few days they will decide that maybe privacy is important after all. But i believe they would say that their privacy is important for some silly reason.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    MrTroy (profile), 20 Aug 2015 @ 5:47pm

    the "fool-proof scheme."

    Anyone who thinks a scheme is fool-proof just hasn't yet found a determined enough fool.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    Sheogorath (profile), 20 Aug 2015 @ 6:01pm

    Baby steps

    Today, grain and kerosene recipients. Tomorrow, every other Indian citizen.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    N K Dutt, 22 Aug 2015 @ 4:10am

    India's Attorney-General: Privacy 'Not A Fundamental Right'

    While I agree that the card will be useful to the poor especially as our Govt food and essential services distribution system is very corrupt. With the Aadhar card, the corruption can be reduced as the distribution can be tracked using the Aadhar card.
    I am really surprised with the Indian PM Modi who has become a willing supporter of the Aadhar card. And during his run up to the election, his party was against Aadhar. And the specious arguments by the Attorney General makes me cynical that the politicians like Modi once they come in to power are willing participants in bending the constitutions that guard the citizens.
    Perhaps we still have hope in our democracy with the Supreme Court being the last bastion of our constitutional rights.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]


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