Letter to Chairman, PCI on Aadhaar number for journalists


Hon’ble Chairman,
Press Council of India (PCI),
Soochna Bhavan,
Lodhi Road,
New Delhi-110003

Hon’ble Members
New Delhi

Subject- Stop enrolment shivir of illegitimate and illegal biometric UID/Aadhaar number for media persons in public interest


This is to seek your urgent intervention to stop the proposed enrolment shivir for biometric Unique Identification (UID)/Aadhaar number for media persons, we wish to seek immediate intervention to stop enrolment of UID/Aadhaar number in public interest. This initiative is unethical and violates the code of ethics for journalists. 

On behalf of Citizens Forum for Civil Liberties (CFCL), we wish to inform you about our shock and disbelief at the plan of Delhi Journalists Association (DJA) and Indraprastha Press Club of India with support from the Indian Medical Association (IMA) to organise a shivir for media people to enrol for biometric Unique Identification (UID)/Aadhaar number which is illegitimate and illegal.

We submit that IMA’s support for an exercise like biometric identification is akin to German Medical Association’s decision to support medical atrocities committed during the 1930s and 1940s while under Nazi rule for which they have apologized after 75 years. IMA may have to regret in the same way. ( Reference: The Lancet, Volume 380, Issue 9852, Page 1472, 27 October 2012)http://www.thelancet.com/journals/lancet/article/PIIS0140-6736%2812%2961842-X/fulltext

We submit that Dr Mohan Rao, Professor at the Centre of Social Medicine and Community Health, Jawaharlal Nehru University (JNU) has underlined that “the claim that the Unique Identification project will facilitate the delivery of basic health services is dishonest.” www.frontline.in/static/html/fl2824/stories/20111202282401900.htm

It is noteworthy that aadhaar/UID is a biometric identifier number of 12 digits and not a card. Such schemes have been abandoned by countries like Australia, UK, France and China because it raised concerns about indiscriminate surveillance. 

We submit that history is testimony to misuse of such systems by despotic forces. German rulers used IBM Hollerith D-11 card sorting machine in the census of the country in 1933 and since there was a provision for identifying race and ethnicity, the Nazi rulers with the help of IBM could conveniently count and identify the Jews whom they savagely butchered out of racial hatred. One, therefore, cannot rule out the possibility of this power being misused by persons in power to access private details such as religious, racial, caste or even political profiling from Aadhaar data base to serve undemocratic, illegal and unethical purposes for use in ways that may pose a risk to the life or security of the person concerned. It is noteworthy that when quizzed on how they would prevent Aadhaar data base from falling in wrong hands or enabling unscrupulous politicians to misuse for their benefit and against the interest of the Indian people, Nandan Nilakeni who eulogizes Aadhaar number as “ubiquitous” and even advised people to “tattoo it somewhere,” lest they should forget it, was caught napping.”

We submit that it is admitted that Governments of France and South Korea and transnational companies like Gemalto, IBM, L-1 Identity Solutions, Microsoft and Pfizer are part of the World Bank’s eTransform Initiative (ETI).

We submit that what is least talked about is that the E-identity and UID/aadhaar related projects are part of World Bank’s eTransform Initiative formally launched on April 23, 2010 and Interpol’s e-identity database project. This along with the then Union Finance Minister, Pranab Mukherjee’s announcement in January 2011 for voluntarily seeking fullfledged  Financial Sector Assessment Programme by IMF and the World Bank merits attention of the legislatures. In April, 2010 L-1 Identity Solutions Inc. (which has now been purchased by biometric technology company Safran group), a French corporation signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with the World Bank as part of the launch of the initiative at a World Bank Spring Meeting event attended by many developing country Ministers of Finance and Communications. It claimed that this collaborative relationship with the World Bank is meant to improve the way governments in developing countries deliver services to citizens as part of the launch of the World Bank eTransform Initiative (ETI). The World Bank’s ETI seeks to leverage Information and Communication Technology (ICT) to build a knowledge sharing network that helps governments of developing nations to leverage the best practices of practitioners like L-1 and others to improve the delivery of social and economic services. The knowledge sharing network will focus on areas such as electronic Identification (eID), e-Procurement, e-Health and e-Education; areas vital to promoting the participation of citizens in democratic processes, such as voting, and helping undocumented citizens get access to health and welfare programmes. The World Bank is currently funding 14 projects related to e-government and e-ID around the world. Are citizens supposed to believe that the World Bank Group is working to ensure that India’s national interest and its citizens’ rights are protected?

It must be noted that Parliamentary Standing Committee on Finance has rejected the National Identification Authority of India Bill 2010 which was meant to give legal status to Unique Identification Authority of India (UIDAI) in its report to the Parliament dated December 13, 2011. The report is available at  

In November, 2012 a Supreme Court bench of Chief Justice and Justice J Chelameshwar issued notices to Ministry of Finance, Planning Commission and the UIDAI on a PIL by a retired judge of Karnataka High Court K S Puttaswamy who said the government was bypassing Parliament by going ahead with  the distribution of UID numbers. The PIL has relied on the letter sent to Prime Minister by Justice Rama Jois, former Supreme Court judge and member of Rajya Sabha questioning the legality of UIDAI.  

We submit that a coalition of people who have become beneficiaries in the possible profits from biometric database have taken media persons for a ride. It may be noted that publications like The Statesman, Tehelka, The Hindu, Hard News, Samayantar, Teesari Duniya, Frontline, Rediff.com, Samkalin Tapman, Chauthi Duniya, Public Agenda, Prabhat Khabar and Pratham Pravakata under Shri Ram Bahadur Rai have attempted to expose this coalition.    

We submit that there has been instances where 3.57 crore signatures against Aadhaar/UID were submitted to the Prime Minister referring to the implementation of UID/Aadhaar as ‘subversion of democracy’.  

In a significant development following rigorous deliberations, an Indian development support organization founded in 1960, Indo-Global Social Service Society (IGSSS) has disassociated itself from UID Number project which was being undertaken under Mission Convergence in Delhi.  Withdrawal of IGSSS that works in 21 states of the country across four core areas India: Sustainable Livelihood, Youth Development, Disaster Risk Reduction, and Urban Poverty merits the attention of all the states and civil society organisations especially those who are unwittingly involved in the UID Number enrollment process.
In its withdrawal letter IGSSS said, “we will not be able to continue to do UID enrolment, as we discussed in the meeting of 10th May 2011.” It added, it is taking step because `it’s hosted under the rubric of UNDP’s “Innovation Support for Social Protection: Institutionalizing Conditional Cash Transfers [Award ID: 00049804, Project: 00061073; Confer: Output 1, Target 1.2 (a) & Output 3 (a), (b)]. In fact we had no clue of this until recently when we searched the web and got this information.’

It is clear that both Mission Convergence and UIDAI have been hiding these crucial facts with ulterior motives. The letter reads, “IGSSS like many other leading civil society groups and individuals are opposed to conditional cash transfers and the UID will be used to dictate it.”

We wish to inform you as to why all Freedom Loving Indians should oppose UID/ Aadhaar, National Population Register (NPR), National Intelligence Grid (NATGRID) and National Counter Terrorism Centre (NCTC)? 
They do so because:
It is a threat to privacy, civil liberties, federalism, national security, sovereignty and constitution
It is without democratic, parliamentary, legal and constitutional sanction
It facilitates emergence of a Database, Surveillance State and Property based Democracy
It is anti-poor and anti-citizen as it dismantles Public Distribution System and other existing social service entitlements
It promotes outsourcing of governance
It is fraught with dangers of genocide and communal crisis
It is guided by undemocratic international financial institutions and defence policies of other nuclear weapon holding countries
The collection of biometric data is an act violation of human rights and turns citizens into subjects and treats them worse than prisoners.
There is an imminent danger from biometric technology companies  indiscriminately collecting biometric data like finger print, iris scan
 It compromises citizens’ rights of present and future generations
 It is a boondoggle, an unnecessary and wasteful project for citizens as it transfers public money to private parties

Taking cognisance of the uncalled for linking of employees provident fund with UID being opposed by the trade Unions, the report of Parliamentary Standing Committee (PSC) on Finance that rejected the National Identification Authority of India (NIDAI) Bill, 2010 for giving post dated legal mandate to Unique Identification Authority of India (UIDAI);

Recalling the Statement of Concern on Unique Identification (UID) Number/ Aadhaar Number project and its inter-linkages with the proposed legislations and institutional machinery issued by 17 eminent citizens like Justice VR Krishna Iyer, Prof Romila Thapar, Late K.G.Kannabiran, Kavita Srivastava, Aruna Roy, Nikhil Dey, Late S.R.Sankaran, Deep Joshi, Prof. Upendra Baxi, Prof. Uma Chakravarthi, Shohini Ghosh, Amar Kanwar, Bezwada Wilson, Trilochan Sastry, Prof. Jagdish Chhokar, Shabnam Hashmi and Justice A.P.Shah dated September 28, 2011 seeking halting of the project;

The Statement of Concern is available at http://www.PetitionOnline.com/NO2UID/

We wish to draw your attention towards the article by Shri Arun Jaitley, Leader of Opposition in Rajya Sabha made available in Urdu, Gujarati, Hindi and English that raises grave concerns about UID/aadhaar. The article is at: http://www.ndtv.com/article/india/my-call-detail-records-and-a-citizen-s-right-to-privacy-arun-jaitley-355448

We wish to draw your attention towards ‘Why the UID project poses a danger to our sovereignty’ available at http://www.rediff.com/news/slide-show/slide-show-1-why-the-uid-project-poses-a-danger-to-our-sovereignty/20130702.htm
We wish to submit that ‘Legislatures fail to save citizens from their biometric profiling by World Bank Group and its partners’ (http://www.toxicswatch.org/2013/05/legislatures-fail-to-save-citizens-from.html)
We wish to draw your attention criticism of DJA, IPCI असंवैधानिक और अलोकतांत्रिक आधार कार्ड बनवाने के लिए शिविर लगातीं कूपमंडूक पत्रकार यूनियनें at http://bhadas4media.com/article-comment/13503-2013-08-02-18-35-39.html

We wish to share how biometric UID/Aadhaar entails “नागरिक की निजता पर सबसे बड़ा डाका” http://visfot.com/index.php/current-affairs/9582-adhar-card-story-gopal-krishna-1307.html
Kindly find attached the notification appointing NN, Chairman, Infosys Ltd as Chairman UIDAI, the RTI reply refusing information about UID enrolment of Prime Minister, cabinet ministers and others, RTI reply denying information about the contracts given to foreign companies that work with intelligence agencies of France and USA and World Bank Policy paper ‘Use of biometric technology in developing countries’. Central Information Commission is seized with the issue of denial of information and had heard the matter on June 24, 2013. 

We demand immediate audit of the activities of the UID Authority of India since January 2009 till date;

We recommend to all the State governments, government departments and voluntary organisations to boycott the UID related projects with immediate effect.

We will be happy to share all the relevant documents in this regard. The report of the Parliamentary Committee is attached and other relevant documents in English and Hindi attached for your perusal and consideration.  

We demand that enrolment shivir of illegitimate, illegal and questionable scheme like biometric UID/Aadhaar number for media persons in public interest.   

thanks & regards
Gopal Krishna
Citizens Forum for Civil Liberties (CFCL)
Mb: 09818089660

Office bearers and members of Indian Journalists Union (IJU)

Office bearers and members of Indian Medical association (IMA)
Office bearers and members of NUJ
Office bearers and members of DJA 

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