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A full nine judge constitutional bench of the Supreme Court have a landmark judgement that makes Privacy a Fundamental Right in India.

Honestly, I feel overwhelmed by this judgement. It has been nearly seven years that I have been involved in opposing Aadhaar. Often called mad by people who ridiculed me and gave examples about the “success” of Aadhaar and why I should not oppose Aadhaar and embrace it like the countless millions who had.

To begin with, we were a few but as the scope of Aadhaar increased, more and more people started having doubts and joined in. Today, it is a huge people’s movement.

I feel overwhelmed by the judgement.

Not because it is wrong in any way but simply because of the sheer unanimity of the verdict. Earlier this week, the triple talaq judgement was a divided 3-2 verdict.

This 9-0 verdict leaves no ambiguity, no wriggle room, no scope for interpretations, no chance of casting doubts.

Nothing.

It is crystal clear, unequivocal and final.

That this is a full nine judge bench and not a smaller five or seven member bench adds to the weight of the judgement.

Yes, the court has indeed delivered a tight slap to the fascist government and left them exposed for what they stand for.

Remember the cocky Attorney General arguing in court that Indians don’t even have right over their bodies?

Well, we do.

And over our minds and much more.

Sure, this is not going to be the end of Aadhaar. There is too much money riding on it. Too many powerful people within and outside the country have invested big time in it. And by investment, I am not talking about money alone. The ex directors of CIA,FBI and other services do not form a company in Israel called L-1 technologies and bid for Aadhaar projects out of any love for Indian’s. Obviously, the agenda is far more ulterior.

Sure the PM and his side-kick might have envisaged this kind of judgment. They are not fools and might have plan B or even C in place. What these are only time will tell. But quite likely they must not have imagined a nine handed full blow to them.

But the other man who called privacy as an elitist concept stands exposed too.

NandanNilekani the rogue whose idea it was to massively interconnect the databases thereby converting it into a full fledged surveillance mechanism and who enabled the rapid seeding of Aadhaar also stands exposed. His corporate strategy has met it’s match in the people of India.

Even as reports of failing biometrics, denial of rations and pensions, massive data leakages were being reported, he was giving lectures on “data layers” least bothered with the millions suffering due to his insane dream.

Last week after Infosys CEO Vishal Sikka abruptly resigned, the company, institutions, stock markets, even the Finance Ministry got shaken and in a turmoil. In the next 2 to 3 days, there were calls to bring back Nilekani back to head the beleaguered Infosys again. Nilekani cancelled his personal travel overseas and is camping in Bangalore.

Reason?

The tanking of Infosys share prices caused a personal loss running into hundreds (some say over thousand) crores to him.

Yet, has this man ever bothered to ask any person what problems they face everyday because of his ill conceived draconian “vision”?

Never wondered how people whose pensions abruptly stop coming and yet they have to live at their old age.

Corporate and political strategies met when NandanNilekani met Narendra Modi immediately after Modi was elected as the prime minister. All through his election campaigning, Modi had promised to junk the Aadhaar program. He continued to publicly say so even after winning 2014.

Yet, a “chance meeting” with Nandan changed his views and he took an abrupt U-turn on the issue. One is not privy to what transpired between the twosome but the UID/Aadhaar program was expanded and unleashed upon the hapless population of India.

Corporate strategy and dirty politics mixed.

Stiff enrolment targets were set, maximum coercion used and all the problems associated with Aadhaar brushed under the carpet. No dissent tolerated. Media was bribed, cajoled or perhaps threatened not to report facts. Those exposing data security flaws were hauled up into prison or in courts on trumped up charges.

India was sliding into a surveillance state orchestrated by a corporate czar and a megalomaniac leader.

The government boasted in open court that Indians do not even have physical bodily rights and that Aadhaar is just the beginning and it’s scope will be extending to bodily fluids (meaning DNA profiling)

All this while cases relating to this unjust Aadhaar imposition have been piling up in courts. But all have been held up because there was no clarity on privacy rights in India not a robust data protection law.

Today’s judgement sets at rest the issue of privacy while data protection is a completely different animal which is being drafted separately.

No, Aadhaar will not go away. But it will no longer be the surveillance tool that it was envisaged to be.

And without surveillance, Aadhaar has little value. It was never meant for welfare anyway.

Because a government which truly wants welfare can do it in zillion different ways. Just as other countries around the world do it.

The megalomaniacs have been halted by the nine wise men and their foresight. Because by passing a 9-0 judgement they have ensured that there won’t be any challenges to it now – or on the future.

People and judicial power are alive and kicking in India.

Fascists take note and do not take either for granted.

The author is an independent Mumbai based activist.  He can be reached via:benchmark.anuj@gmail.com

 

One Comment

  1. K SHESHU BABU says:

    Though this verdict has wide- reaching impact, the rulers have other ideas to see that aadhar remains relevant. They may try to subvert and twist the verdict to suit the corporates and politicians. They need surveillance to quell growing dissent . They are looking to stay in power by hook or by crook . Hence, the struggle is not yet over …it must continue