The RTI activist termed the benefits of the project as “illusive”
Reflecting over the concern about the unspoken dimension that the Unique Identification (UID) project is fundamentally linked to “security” concerns rather than “developmental” concerns, member, National Advisory Council Aruna Roy on Sunday criticised the ‘Adhaar' project for its potential to leave the people at the mercy of an invasive State.
Ms. Roy and Mr. Nikhil Dey of National Campaign for the People's Right to Information (NCPRI) strongly opposed the project while intervening in a debate on “RTI and civil liberty issues” on the second day of a two-day seminar on “Strengthening participative democracy: role of media” at the International Centre Goa.
Pranab Mukhopadhyay, Associate Professor, Department of Economic of Goa University, chaired the session.
While accepting that she was not competent to give a opinion on the biometric technology part of the project, Ms. Roy attacked the project saying it would necessarily entail violation of privacy and civil liberties. Terming the claims of the purported benefits of the projects in the social sector, such as in the public distribution system as an “illusion”, the RTI activist said there were enough methods through which the PDS delivery system could be streamlined.
Responding to some issues raised over the proposed Prevention of Communal Violence Bill, Mr. Dey emphasised the need for pre-legislative interventions on all such legislations and said that grey areas like defining majority and minority need to be debated.
The provision in the proposed legislation made the law and enforcement authorities accountable rather than putting the onus on victims to fight for justice. The responsibility for failure to tackle communal violence would be on District Magistrate and Superintendent of Police, she said. In response to a concern raised by an activist that the Goa government had invoked provisions of National Security Act on the pretext of growing crime in the State , Ms. Roy censured the State government for invoking draconian provisions just to cover the failure of its police.
During a session on “Role of media and NGOs in promoting RTI”, chaired by Mr. K.R. Sreenivas, Editor, The Times of India , Goa, participants called for a greater partnership between the NGOs, citizens, and the media for a greater space in media for issues arising out of information extracted by citizens and NGOs via RTI.
Participants called for greater media support to citizens over their grievances related to struggles on RTI front with difficult officials and authorities.