Monthly Archives: June 2014

Narendra Modi Must Scrap Aadhaar Project As Well Along With The Cabinet Committee On UIDAI

PRAVEEN-DALAL-MANAGING-PARTNER-OF-PERRY4LAW-CEO-PTLB4The Aadhaar Project is the most “Obnoxious” and “Evil” Project that Indian Government has been pursuing till now. In my personal opinion, the very foundation of Aadhaar Project is based upon “Lies and Deception” and this Project should have been “Scrapped” long before. However, the previous Government not only deliberately kept this “Illegal and Unconstitutional Project” alive but also wasted crore of “Hard Earned Public Money” on a Project that is clearly Illegal and Unconstitutional.

I still hold the same opinion about Aadhaar Project, i.e. Aadhaar Project must be “Scrapped Immediately” by the new Government. The Truth is that Aadhaar Project has no “Welfare Elements” involved but it is a “Purely E-Surveillance Project” that is operating in great disregard to “Constitutional Rights” of Indian Citizens.

Fortunately, the Constitutional Validity of Aadhaar Project has been questioned in the High Courts and Supreme Court of India. The Supreme Court has even held that Aadhaar Card/Number cannot be made mandatory for availing public services in India. The Supreme Court has also prohibited UIDAI from sharing biometric data with Indian Government Agencies without data owner’s consent. Even a Parliamentary Committed rejected the proposed National Identification Authority of India Bill 2010 finding it “Inadequate and Unsuitable”.

What is surprising is that despite all these “Illegalities and Irregularities”, the previous Government did not deem it fit to scrap the Aadhaar Project. Now it is the “Constitutional Duty” of the Narendra Modi led Government to scrap Aadhaar Project as soon as possible. Both the Judiciary and Parliament have shown their “Displeasures” against Aadhaar Project and this is sufficient hint for the present Executive to scrap this Unconstitutional Project.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi has already scrapped all the Empowered Groups of Ministers (EGoMs) and Groups of Ministers (GoMs). Now it has been reported that Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Tuesday scrapped four Cabinet Committees, including one on Unique Identification Authority of India (UIDAI), as part of his efforts to minimise decision-making processes. The Prime Minister will also be reconstituting the Appointments Committee of the Cabinet, the Cabinet Committee on Economic Affairs, the Cabinet Committee on Parliamentary Affairs, the Cabinet Committee on Political Affairs and the Cabinet Committee on Security.

This is a “Bold and Good Decision” in the “Right Direction”. The next step should be Scrapping of Aadhaar Project of India as it is a “Remedy Worst than Malady”. Narendra Modi Government must get rid of burdensome projects like Aadhaar and save valuable financial resources for useful public projects alone.

Natgrid Project Of India Needs Techno Legal Implementation

PRAVEEN-DALAL-MANAGING-PARTNER-OF-PERRY4LAW-CEO-PTLB4With the new Government in power, National Security and Internal Security Projects and Initiatives were on the cards. However, none could have anticipated that they would be taken up so early. In some positive developments, the efforts to strengthen the Internal Security of India have already been started. The appointment of the duo of Mr. Nripendra Mishra and Mr. Ajit Kumar Doval was the most crucial step in this direction.

The present efforts to streamline the establishment and running of the National Intelligence Grid (NATGRID) Project of India is another step in this direction. As per media reports, the contractual term of NATGRID CEO Mr. Raghu Raman have come to an end as his tenure has not been extended by the Government. However, avoidance of the establishment of a National Counter Terrorism Centre (NCTC) of India is a major setback for India’s Internal Security. Similarly, Indian Cyberspace must also be protected on a priority basis that has been neglected for long.

The NATGRID Project of India is a very ambitious Intelligence Gathering and Processing mechanism. NATGRID Project of India has gone through numerous stages and finally it is ready to be rolled out. However, from the very beginning NATGRID Project has not been implemented in a coherent and systematic manner due to internal turf wars and bureaucratic hurdles.

There is no doubt that NATGRID Project of India is of tremendous importance for the National Security of India on the one hand and Law Enforcement and Intelligence Requirements on the others. In fact, NATGRID is an essential part of the Law Enforcement Technologies in India.

NATGRID Project of India is not by itself “Intelligence Related Project” but a Project to facilitate Law Enforcement and Intelligence related inputs. Its purpose is to transform raw intelligence information and inputs in a more meaningful “Intelligence Lead”.  The present times is a time of do or die for NATGRID Project. This is more so when its counterpart Crime and Criminal Tracking Network and Systems (CCTNS) Project of India is performing much better.

NATGRID may be a good platform for India to strengthen its Intelligence and Law Enforcement Initiatives. However, it cannot survive in the absence of “Political Will” to make it an effective and responsible tool. With the benefits of NATGRID come the issues of “Accountability and Fairness” in its operation. India must formulate adequate “Safeguards” before making NATGRID functional. NATGRID is an essential requirement for robust and effective Intelligence Agencies and Law Enforcement Functions in India. The only requirement is to ensure that its “Abuses can be Anticipated, Prevented and Remedied”. The NATGRID project must not die like the other projects handled by India from time to time. NATGRID would also require skilled workforce and for that Skills Development for Intelligence Workforce is need of the hour. This would also be required to perform Open Source Intelligence through Social Media Platforms and Internet.

However, above all we have to make necessary changes at the Policy and Legislation Levels. For instance, the National Security Policy of India and Telecom Security Policy of India must be Techno Legal in nature that must “Balance” the National Security and Civil Liberties Requirements in India. There must be “Severe Punishment” for Illegal Phone Tapping that is rampant in India. The Intelligence Agencies of India Need Parliamentary Oversight and the Intelligence Infrastructure of India needs Transparency and Strengthening. There should not be any “Legal Immunity” to Intelligence Agencies of India in the absence of Parliamentary Oversight and the system of “Using Executive Orders” to confer “Legitimacy” upon Intelligence Agencies must be abandoned as soon as possible by the Government.

Enough time has already been wasted for the implementation of NATGRID Project and it is high time to deliver results. Once this is successfully done, the way to constitute National Counter Terrorism Centre of India would also be clear. I hope and wish that NATGRID Project of India would be operational very soon.

Intelligence Agencies Of India Need Parliamentary Oversight

PRAVEEN-DALAL-MANAGING-PARTNER-OF-PERRY4LAW-CEO-PTLBLaw enforcement and intelligence agencies of India are operating in a manner that cannot be considered to be legal and Constitutional in nature. The truth is that intelligence infrastructure of India needs transparency and strengthening. Privacy rights in India in the information age are blatantly violated that also with the aid of unconstitutional laws. Surprisingly India has no e-surveillance policy in effect and illegal e-surveillance projects like NETRA and Central Monitoring System (CMS) are openly operating in India with great disregard to our “Constitutional Norms”.

Firstly, there is an urgent need to repeal draconian laws like Telegraph Law and Indian Cyber Law. Secondly, there is a dire need to formulate dedicated telephone tapping law of India as soon as possible. Unfortunately, Indian Government is not serious about formulating a dedicated privacy law for India. Data protection and privacy rights in India are in real bad shape.

There is no second opinion that a lawful interception law is urgently needed in India. There have been some efforts in this direction in the form of a privacy law for India. It has been proposed that illegal phone tapping in India may attract Rs 2 crore penalties in future. However, before this provision becomes a part of any future law, the intelligence agencies of India have already expressed their apprehensions and reservations in this regard. Intelligence agencies of India are also demanding legal immunity against cyber deterrent acts without any transparency and accountability.

It is also true that the intelligence agencies of India are also not subject to Parliamentary Oversight that is need of the hour. This is more so when even the Right to Information Act, 2005 is not applicable to intelligence agencies and many law enforcement agencies of India. India “must reconcile” the civil liberties and national security requirements but the same is presently missing.

India’s own Projects like Aadhar, National Intelligence Grid (NATGRID), Crime and Criminal Tracking Network and Systems (CCTNS), National Counter Terrorism Centre (NCTC), Central Monitoring System (CMS), Centre for Communication Security Research and Monitoring (CCSRM), Internet Spy System Network And Traffic Analysis System (NETRA) of India, etc are violative of civil liberties protection in cyberspace. None of them are governed by any legal framework and none of them are under Parliamentary scrutiny.

If this is not enough, phone tapping in India can be performed as a “Purely Executive Act” without any “Procedural Safeguards”, including the absence of a “Judicial Scrutiny”. India is one of the few Nations where phone tapping can be done without a “Court Warrant” at the “Executive Level” itself.  The digital life of Indian citizens is not at all safe and is open to various forms of e-surveillance and eavesdropping. In the absence of support form Indian Government, self defence is the only viable option left before Indian citizens to safeguard their digital lives.