The Supreme Court of India’s September 2018 judgment, which declared the Aadhaar project Constitutional, failed to account for petitions challenging the Aadhaar project on religious grounds, and the merging of the National Population Register and the Aadhaar database, among others. Crucially, the judgment ignored the fact that, across India, starvation deaths stemmed from Aadhaar-related issues in at least 46 cases between 2015 and 2018. The aftermath of the SC judgment highlights the judgment’s lapses sharply - as many as 19 lakh beneficiaries in Odisha have been denied their monthly rations for not linking their Aadhaar number with ration cards under the pilot One Nation One Ration Card programme. The “function creep” of the Aadhaar project extended to the National Register of Citizens, with the biometrics of those excluded from the NRC in Assam stored in order to prevent them from applying for an Aadhaar number or availing welfare services in other parts of India.
Rethink Aadhaar, in collaboration with a host of grassroots campaigns, is organising a People’s tribunal on Aadhaar-related issues in order to review the actual on-ground impact over the ten years of the project’s existence, with particular emphasis on the developments since the Supreme Court’s Aadhaar judgment. This two-day event is proposed for February 29 and March 1, 2020, and will feature an accomplished jury comprising among others a former Member of Parliament and a former judge of the Supreme Court of India.
What: People’s tribunal on Aadhaar-related issues
When: February 29 and March 1, 2020, 9am - 8pm
Where: 301 (3rd Floor), ISI, 10, Lodhi Institutional Area, New Delhi
Live tweets: http://twitter.com/@Article21_Ind and http://twitter.com/@no2uid
The Tribunal will help put evidence of the Aadhaar project’s relentless “function creep” and its impact - on welfare schemes, on our informational privacy, and of our right to have rights - before the public together with the jury’s opinion. This, we expect, will help develop a widely endorsed critique of the State’s continued reliance on the Aadhaar number as a “truth machine”, one which gains in significance given the current focus on updating the National Population Register and subsequently preparing the National Register of Indian Citizens. For instance, the fact that possessing an Aadhaar number does not constitute proof of citizenship is not widely known nor advertised.
The documentation prepared for the tribunal will further serve as material using which we can further push the government to acknowledge and act upon the lapses in administering the Aadhaar project and, at the very least, ensure actual and total compliance with the Supreme Court’s direction that no one should be denied any service or welfare benefit for want of an Aadhaar number.