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Last Updated : Jul 06, 2019 05:13 PM IST | Source:

TMC MP Mahua Moitra’s privacy concerns on Aadhaar stand tall against FM Nirmala Sitharaman’s Budget 2019 proposals

According to the TMC MP, the Aadhaar Bill 2016 lacks transparency

Sounak Mukherjee @_maqtub

TMC MP Mahua Moitra opposed the Aadhaar Bill 2016 in Parliament on July 4. After breaking the Internet with her maiden speech on June 25, Moitra stormed Lok Sabha again with a fiery speech.

It may be an uncanny coincidence that Moitra’s speech came a day before Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman presented Budget 2019 that included a number of references to Aadhaar. Sitharaman’s proposal effectively made it possible to replace a PAN card with an Aadhaar card. It is possible to do so not only while filing income tax returns, but whenever a PAN card is required.

"For ease of tax payers, I propose to make PAN and Aadhaar card interchangeable and allow those who don't have PAN to file returns by simply quoting Aadhaar and use it wherever they require PAN," she said.


Sitharaman also announced in her maiden B udget speech that non-resident Indians (NRIs) would not have to wait for 180 days to get their Aadhaar. She proposed that Aadhaar for NRIs with Indian passports should be issued “on their arrival in India”. According to her, it will make NRI investments in the country easier.

In October 2017, Moitra was an MLA when she challenged the central government in court. She filed a writ petition against the government’s instruction to link Aadhaar with bank accounts. She called it “illegal” to freeze bank accounts if one failed to link it to their Aadhaar card.

As per her argument, the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) included Aadhaar as one of the six required documents in its Know Your Customer (KYC) guidelines. That, she said, made it “optional” to use Aadhaar, not “mandatory”.

In her recent speech, Moitra raised one point after another to indicate how Aadhaar was fiddling with people’s privacy. According to her, the Aadhaar Bill 2016 is not transparent at all and has many grey areas.

"This bill strikes at the very heart of the primacy of an individual and privacy of an individual's data. This is what the Supreme Court in their judgment also tried to talk about. There are three very problematic clauses in this amended bill," she said.

Moitra reminded the Narendra Modi-led government that Aadhaar had been introduced to provide service to the poor. On the contrary, it has now been used to help private entities collect confidential pieces of information about the citizens of India.

Moitra argued that the government had specified no viable means to recourse in case the Aadhaar ecosystem failed.

"There is no standard of privacy and security today. There is no Data Protection Act. In the absence of data protection, how can you ask me to give up my information to a private agency? This is integral to the Bill, you can't have the cart before the horse. You give us recourse, put a viable framework and we will give assent. There is no problem," She added.

Moitra’s efforts was instrumental in a remarkable judgment by the Supreme Court of India.

SC struck down Section 57 of the Aadhaar Act as “unconstitutional" in September 2018. The apex court made it illegal for private entities to demand Aadhaar as a mandatory document for KYC. It also made it illegal for telecom providers to seek Aadhaar for KYC related to SIM cards.

It’d be significant to see how the first-time MP reacts to Sitharaman’s Aadhaar proposals now.

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First Published on Jul 5, 2019 06:32 pm
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