In India there are many projects that are being implemented without any legal framework and parliamentary oversight. In fact, these projects are clear violation of the constitutional protections and fundamental rights conferred by Indian Constitution.
Surprisingly, these projects have not only survived constitutional scrutiny by our otherwise active and praiseworthy judiciary but they have actually grown in their impact and application.
One such project is Aadhaar project that is implemented in India in clear violation of constitutional norms. This unnecessary expenditure, that also on an unconstitutional project, could have been avoided. Fortunately, the illegality of Aadhaar project is questioned In India courts.
In all probability Aadhaar project would be declared to be unconstitutional unless it is supported by an already existing constitutionally sound legal framework. As on date, the parliament of India has not passed any law that can authorise the existence and continued functioning of Aadhaar project in India.
At Perry4Law Organisation and Perry4Law’s Techno Legal Base (PTLB) we believe that the Aadhaar project of India must be either suspended or scrapped till it is preceded by a constitutionally sound legal framework. Indian government is committing a big blinder by allowing the Aadhaar project to be continued in an unconstitutional manner.
Similar rules apply to projects like central monitoring system (CMS) project of India, national intelligence grid (Natgrid) project of India, national counter terrorism centre (NCTC) of India, etc.
In all these projects, including Aadhaar project, we are facing some common problems. The first and foremost has already been discussed, i.e. lack of legal framework and parliamentary oversight. The second on the list is lack of dedicated privacy rights and laws in India. Till date we have no dedicated data protection laws in India, privacy laws and rights in India, data security laws in India, cyber security laws in India, etc.
The third problem associated with projects like these is related to violation of civil liberties in India. The civil liberties and national security requirements must be reconciled by India. While national security and cyber security are important, they must not result in blatant and unnecessary violation of civil liberties like speech and expression and privacy rights.
The fourth problem with which Aadhaar project is suffering pertains to lack of cyber security infrastructure in India. Not only the biometrics collection in India is unconstitutional but the biometric database is also highly vulnerable to cyber attacks, cracking, data thefts and biometric data manipulations.
India is increasingly facing serious cyber attacks. Recently, the computer systems of DRDO and security officials were breached and sensitive files were leaked. Further, it is also well known that Internet is full of unprotected and unsafe devices, SCADA systems and computers. The cyber security infrastructure of India is also not in a good shape. The offensive and defensive cyber security capabilities of India have still to be developed. In these circumstances managing the cyber security of biometric data collected by the Aadhaar project and UIDAI is next to impossible.
Neither UIDAI nor Indian government is ready for a project like Aadhaar that has been given such a long life span against all odds. It would be in larger interest of India if the Aadhaar project is put at rest immediately unless we are inviting some catastrophe to happen.