'By taking fingerprints, iris scans and other details of citizens, the State is becoming the custodian of its people.'
'The State can use this data according to its whims and fancies, which is not good in a democracy.'
'When the State looks at all the activities of its citizens, it becomes a police State.'
Communist Party of India leader Binoy Viswam has moved a petition in the Supreme Court questioning the introduction of Section 139 AA of the IT Act to link Aadhaar cards with PAN cards.
He also questioned the government's decision to introduce the amendment as part of a Money Bill, thereby curtailing a discussion in the Rajya Sabha.
'How can you make Aadhaar mandatory despite a clear order to make it optional? Is making Aadhaar by force the only way to tackle fraud?' the nation's highest court asked the Centre.
Binoy Viswam, who does not have an Aadhaar card, explains to Rediff.com's Shobha Warrier why he considers the Aadhaar card undemocratic and an intrusion into a citizen's Constitutional Right to Privacy.
Why did you file a petition in the Supreme Court against the government's decision to link Aadhaar with PAN?
The Supreme Court had said earlier that Aadhaar is not mandatory.
Till now, it was optional for all Indian citizens. You had the right to decide whether you want to have the card or not. But the new Finance Bill has made it mandatory for a tax payer.
Till now, to pay your tax, you need to have only your PAN number, but by linking Aadhaar to your PAN number, the government is making it mandatory.
It was not right on the part of the government to introduce the amendment as a part of a finance bill, as a Money Bill.
By doing so, it curtailed a discussion in the Rajya Sabha (the Upper House of Parliament can neither reject, nor amend a Money Bill; it can only make recommendations).
Can the executive overturn what the judiciary says?
Here, the executive is trying to play a very active role, which they are not supposed to do.
The government in its affidavit told the court that it would not make Aadhaar mandatory. But now, they are making it obligatory even for something like the mid-day meal scheme. It is needed for taxation and all the financial activities.
Slowly, they are making it compulsory for all citizens.
Aadhaar is intruding into a citizen's Right to Privacy, something the Constitution guarantees every citizen.
Why do you think the same party that opposed Aadhaar when it was introduced by the UPA now wants to make it compulsory for every citizen?
It shows the BJP has two faces. It is not a party that has a genuine and sensible political ideology.
The party has no qualms in changing its colour according to the needs.
When in Opposition, they criticised the UPA and now in power, they say one of the best UPA initiatives was introducing Aadhaar. This exposes the double standards followed by the BJP.
They realise now that this card gives the State the power to peep into the lives of every citizen in the country.
When the State looks at all the activities of its citizens, it becomes a police State.
It is like Big Brother is watching everyone and this negates the basic spirit of democracy.
When I interviewed Dr Usha Ramanathan, she said Aadhaar could be a threat to national security since the data is not safe.
The government itself admitted recently that personal data of many citizens had been leaked.
Do you feel there is a cause for concern?
Definitely, it is a matter of concern.
When the data related to crores of Indians was taken by private agencies and when they have access to it, how safe is it?
It can affect the security, integrity and sovereignty of the nation.
The Supreme Court itself says Aadhaar is not mandatory, yet a person who doesn't want to take the card is being forced to take it now...
I have not taken the Aadhaar card till now. But I know many people who don't support Aadhaar have been forced to take it. You can say they have taken it out of fear.
In a democracy, you can't coerce, you can't pressure people to do such things.
The government has no right to say that without Aadhaar you cannot have certain benefits given by the government.
Is it necessary for every citizen to have a unique ID in a democracy? Can't we exist without an ID?
When you have a voter id, a ration card, a passport, a PAN card to pay taxes, what is the need to have an ID where all your information is stored?
The data of so many citizens of this country is with an agency that is not supposed to keep it.
This is very dangerous for the Indian nation.
Do you think only the judiciary can do something about this?
The judiciary is one of the forums that can do something, but it's not the only forum.
I am a democrat and in my opinion, people are the biggest force. But sometimes, the judiciary also can play a role.
You said you don't have an Aadhaar card. Will you ever take it?
Right now, no, I will not take an Aadhaar. I cannot be forced to take it.
If the court also does not come to my rescue, and I have no other option, I will have to, now that the government has linked Aadhaar to PAN. Then I will be forced to do something by the coercive government.
If that happens, it will be an insult to the citizen.
Do you feel there will be a fundamental shift in the State-citizen relationship when the State forces a citizen to do something s/he doesn't want to?
Then, it is not democracy.
In a democracy, the will of the people is supreme.
Here, the citizens are becoming instruments in the hands of the State.
By taking fingerprints, iris scans and other details of the citizens of the country, the State is becoming the custodian of its people.
The State can use this data according to its whims and fancies, which is not good in a democracy.
When the State asks a hungry child for an Aadhaar card to have his mid-day meal, when the State asks a poor MNREGA worker for the card to get the pay for his work, where is democracy at work?
Such a State talking about democracy is nothing but hypocrisy as they are fooling the people.