Rethink Aadhaar for ILGMS: Civil Society Groups write to the Kerala Government
Digital rights organisations Rethink Aadhaar, Article 21 Trust, Internet Freedom Foundation, SFLC.in and SMC endorse a legal notice sent to the Government of Kerala by Bezwada Wilson and Kalyani Menon-Sen (prominent civil society activists, and petitioners in the Puttaswamy case, challenging the constitutionality of Aadhaar), asking that it sever all links with Aadhaar, in relation to its recently launched Integrated Local Self Governance Management System (ILGMS).
ILGMS, developed by the Information Kerala Mission brings all civic registration processes under one common platform and portal and provides a single window for all services and payments related to birth, death and marriage registrations, tax payments and pensions. As per circulars dated 14.05.2020 and 28.05.2020, this is being rolled out across districts across Kerala in a phased manner beginning July 2020. However, the online portal can only be accessed if a registrant inputs their Aadhaar number.
The legal notice brings to the Kerala government’s notice the constitutional and practical bars preventing it from requiring or even using Aadhaar verification for ILGMS. In KS Puttaswamy v Union of India (2019 10 SCC 1), a constitutional bench of the Supreme Court significantly curtailed the Aadhaar project, in light of it’s surveillance, security and exclusionary harms. The Court held that three conditions had to be met in order for the use of Aadhaar to be constitutional: the presence of a legitimate state aim to use Aadhaar numbers; Second, the presence of an enacted law permitting such use; And third, the requirement that this law conform to the ‘doctrine of proportionality’. This is a strict test: in the same judgement the Supreme Court struck down the use of Aadhaar for ‘seeding’ in bank accounts, despite an enacted legislative measure providing for it, finding that it did not pass the test of proportionality.
In the Puttuswamy case, Aadhaar verification was deemed permissible only for a strict category of “Section 7” subsidies and benefits, drawn from the Consolidated Fund of India, and for PAN linkage (the deadline for which has been extended multiple times). The Court cautioned against the proliferation of the use of Aadhaar, holding that “their scope is not to be unduly expanded thereby widening the net of Aadhaar”.
Since its inception, the Aadhaar project been shown to pose serious threats of surveillance, safety, security and health risks to the population, and any database or project associated with it runs the risk of being compromised.
In light of this, and in the interests of security, safety and efficacy of the ILGMS system, it is imperative the Kerala government withdraw the order mandating the use of Aadhaar for registrants to the ILGMS system.