Newsletter Sept 27, 2018




The Supreme Court on Wednesday upheld the validity of the Aadhaar scheme but struck down or read down as many as six provisions, including those on linking of bank accounts, mobile phones and school admissions, to the unique identification number.

There were three separate judgments yesterday from Justices Sikri, Chandrachud and Bhushan. The CJI and Justice Khanwilkar will not deliver separate judgments and have concurred with Justice Sikri. While Justice Bhushan concurred with the other three judges, Justice Chandrachud dissented and declared the Aadhaar Act unconstitutional. He was also the only one who declared that Aadhar bill was wrongly presented as a Money Bill in parliament.

Taking it up as a Money Bill had allowed the govt to bypass the Rajya Sabha.

In his verdict, Justice Sikri has struck down portions of the law that made it mandatory for Aadhaar to be provided to private corporations for various services. The court said it can be used only for government services.

The 4:1 verdict ruled that there was nothing in the Aadhaar Act that violated the right to privacy of an individual.

“Aadhaar gives dignity to the marginalised. Dignity to marginalised outweighs privacy… one can’t throw the baby out with the bathwater… remedy is to plug loopholes rather than axe a project aimed for welfare,” said Justice AK Sikri

“If a Constitution has to survive political aggrandisement, notions of power, authority must give compliance to rule of law… constitutional guarantees can’t be compromised by vicissitudes of technology,” said Justice DY Chandrachud, in his dissenting judgment.



 The Supreme Court has upheld the requirement of having an Aadhaar number while filing an income tax return and for obtaining a Permanent Account Number (PAN).

Aadhaar also remains mandatory for availing facilities of welfare schemes and govt subsidies.

Aadhaar cannot be made mandatory for mobile phone connections or for bank accounts, the Supreme Court has ruled.

Schools cannot insist on Aadhaar number for admission of students. Also, Aadhaar is not mandatory for UGC, NEET and CBSE examinations.

Corporate bodies or any private person cannot seek Aadhaar from applicants after the SC has struck down Section 57 of the Aadhaar Act that allows private entities to use Aadhaar for verification purpose.

Section 33(2) that allows UIDAI to share the Aadhaar data with specially authorised officers in the interest of national security, has also been struck down.



The government on Wednesday lauded the Supreme Court judgment on the constitutionality of Aadhaar law, as it said the concept of unique ID number has been accepted in judicial review by the apex court. Calling the apex court’s verdict “historic”, Finance Minister Arun Jaitley noted that Aadhaar has helped the government save Rs 90,000 crore every year with targeted delivery of public welfare schemes.

Taking credit while slamming the Congress, the BJP described the Supreme Court judgment on Aadhaar as “a big victory” for the Narendra Modi government and “a defeat” for the Opposition party. “The Congress tried to fight and defeat Aadhaar. They tried to mislead people on various grounds, including scare-mongering on privacy. Today they stand exposed and defeated,” party president Amit Shah tweeted.

Although the Congress on Wednesday lost the case that Aadhaar Bill is not a money Bill, its leaders said the Supreme Court majority judgment was no setback for the party as it never wanted the entire Bill struck down.

“This is no setback. We never wanted the entire Bill struck down as it protects the rights of the marginalised. For the first time, the SC Constitution Bench has ruled that the decision of the Lok Sabha Speaker is justifiable. This is big,” Congress leader Kapil Sibal said as party’s top brass claimed SC judgment to be an endorsement of Congress’ stand that Aadhaar should be voluntary and not mandatory.

Congress chief Rahul Gandhi hailed the order, saying “For Congress, Aadhaar was an instrument of empowerment. For the BJP, Aadhaar is a tool of oppression and surveillance. Thank you, Supreme Court, for supporting the Congress vision and protecting it.”

Congress further questioned the government on what would happen to the mine of biometric data that has reached private hands. “The SC has said the data cannot be stored beyond six months. We hope the government will create mechanisms to destroy the data that is already in private hands,” Sibal added.



 In another historic decision, a five-judge Constitution bench of the Supreme Court on Wednesday ruled that the “creamy layer exclusion” principle, till date applied only to OBCs, can be extended to Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes to deny reservation to the “elite” among the two underprivileged communities.

The order of Chief Justice Dipak Misra and Justices Kurian Joseph, R F Nariman, Sanjay Kishan Kaul and Indu Malhotra overshadowed the relief they gave to the Centre, states and SC & ST government employees in exempting states from collecting quantifiable data on backwardness to justify reservation in promotion for the two categories. The bench said their backwardness has been recognised as inherent to them after statutorily provided scrutiny to warrant inclusion in the list of scheduled communities under Presidential Order to get reservation benefits.

The requirement to furnish quantifiable data, laid down by the apex court in the M Nagraj case in 2006, to justify reservation in promotions for SC & ST employees has held up elevation of serving employees from the two categories, leading to restiveness in their ranks.





Two days after Ibrahim Mohamed Solih emerged victorious in the presidential elections, the Maldives Opposition alliance, in a fresh turn of events, said outgoing President Abdulla Yameen was working on ways to remain in power despite having conceded defeat.

Joint Opposition spokesperson Ahmed Mahloof said on Wednesday that government officials claimed Yameen was planning to complain to the Election Commission of Maldives about how the vote was conducted and try to put pressure on it to delay the release of the final results, due on Sunday. Mahloof said Yameen was also trying to get police officers loyal to him to prepare intelligence reports stating that the election process was flawed.

This came on a day that China said it was hurt over former Maldives President Mohammad Nasheed’s “irresponsible remarks” against Beijing. Nasheed had said that after the defeat of pro-Beijing Yameen, the country would surely rethink the Chinese deals and mend its ties with India. Nasheed also said that it was difficult for an authoritarian state like China to understand a democratic country like the Maldives.

“We are deeply confused and regret these irresponsible remarks made by certain persons. We reiterate that we will continue our cooperation on the basis of equality and mutual benefit. We will abide by the market-based rule,” Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson Geng Shuang said when asked about Nasheed’s comments.



 They laughed. Not even a minute into the speech. They laughed. On the planet’s biggest stage, with more than 100 world leaders gathered with their ministers, ambassadors and dignitaries of every stripe, while news cameras from as many countries broadcast the speech in as many languages, they laughed.

President Donald Trump seemed surprised when he heard it. Attendees of the General Assembly, normally a scripted annual gathering of presidents, prime ministers and wizened diplomats, do not typically break decorum, let alone laugh at the most powerful man in the room.

But there it was, soon after Trump commenced his highly anticipated speech on Tuesday, as he boasted about how much his administration had accomplished in two years, “more than almost any administration in the history of our country.” For Trump it was little more than a minor boast, a well-worn line trotted out frequently at rallies with ardent supporters across US that rarely warrants special mention anymore. But for some reason, at the UN, it resonated.

By the end of the day, there was no escaping it. The laughter eclipsed Trump’s criticism of the “corrupt dictatorship” in Iran and the “human tragedy” in Venezuela.The laugh even made it into the official White House transcript of Trump’s speech.

Trump put a brave face on things, saying later that in a speech concerned mostly with berating enemies and allies alike, the line about his administration’s extraordinary productivity had been “meant to get some laughter.”

Trump has spent much of his career trying to get the laughter — real or perceived — to stop. “We need a President who isn’t a laughingstock to the entire World,” he tweeted about President Obama in 2014.

Before the 2016 election, he complained that Mexico was “laughing at our dumb immigration laws”, Vladimir Putin was “laughing at Obama” over the leak of classified NSA documents, and the world was laughing “at what fools our leaders have been” on trade. The laughter was supposed to have stopped when Trump took the presidency.





Days are not far when people would watch Supreme Court proceedings live sitting in their living rooms as a three-judge Bench headed by Chief Justice of India Dipak Misra on Wednesday allowed a PIL seeking live streaming of the court’s proceedings in important constitutional matters.

“We generally agree with the comprehensive guidelines for live streaming of Court proceedings in the Supreme Court suggested by the learned Attorney General for India Shri K.K. Venugopal,” said a Bench of Chief Justice of India Dipak Misra, Justice AM Khanwilkar and Justice DY Chandrachud.

The verdict came on a petition filed by senior advocate Indira Jaising seeking live streaming of court proceedings.

“Above all, sunlight is the best disinfectant. Live-streaming as an extension of the principle of open courts will ensure that the interface between a court hearing with virtual reality will result in the dissemination of information in the widest possible sense, imparting transparency and accountability to the judicial process,” said Justice Chandrachud in a separate concurring verdict. The first verdict was written by Justice Khanwilkar for himself and the CJI.



In a massive move to reform medical education sector, the government on Wednesday dissolved the Medical Council of India replacing it with a seven member board of governors led by NITI Aayog member health VK Paul.

The seven-member BOG also comprises AIIMS New Delhi Director Randeep Guleria, PGI Chandigarh Director Jagat Ram, NIMHANS Bangalore Chief BN Gangadhar, AIIMS New Delhi professor Nikhil Tandon, Director General Health Services S Venkatesh, and Secretary Health Research Balram Bhargava.

The dissolution happened through an ordinance passed by the Union Cabinet in a move to cleanse the health sector of corruption.

The Indian Medical Council Amendment Ordinance 2018 says the MCI will be superseded and the President, Vice-President and other MCI members will vacate their offices and shall have no claim to compensation whatsoever.

The move comes after a Supreme Court appointed oversight committee told the government that it was unable to oversee the MCI since the MCI remained non cooperative and non-complaint.

The MCI was first dissolved through an ordinance in 2010 under the Congress-led UPA and remained superseded until 2013 and has again gone down the same old road.





Dalit leaders have decried Supreme Court’s decision to ask the Centre to introduce creamy layer for SC & ST on lines of OBCs. Some leaders said that it was just an recommendation and it was up to the government to follow it.

Prakash Ambedkar, BRP-BMS chief, said that SC had not asked the government to introduce creamy layer for SCs and STs. “It has only asked the government to examine the possibility. However, even then I strongly disagree with the observation. President Ram Nath Kovind, who is a SC, is the most powerful man in India. However, even he is not allowed entry in Puri Jagannath Temple. So you can imagine the plight of common SCs,” he added.

Nitin Raut, chairman of scheduled caste department of AICC, echoed similar views. “It seems that the court has not given clear-cut directions regarding creamy layer issue, so it is up to the central government to take a firm stand for the benefit of deprived classes. The creamy layer principle can never be applied to SC/ST because we are not poor because of lack of money but because of caste discrimination and that cannot go away just because someone has a government job.”



The Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) Wednesday directed home departments of states and Union Territories to broadcast and publicise the “serious consequences under the law” for those indulging in mob violence.

Officials said the MHA, in consultation with the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting, will soon start broadcasting messages on radio and TV that mob lynchings would invite “stricter punishment”.

Thirty-four lynching deaths have been reported from nine states in the last one year. The most recent incident took place at Imphal where a 26-year-old man identified as Farooque Khan was killed by a mob on the suspicion that he was a vehicle-lifter.

Citing a directive of the Supreme Court, the MHA told the states that preventive measures must be taken to check incidents of lynching. The apex court has ordered that Central and state governments should broadcast on radio, television and other media platforms, including official websites of state home department and police, that lynching of any kind shall invite serious consequences under the law.

The MHA has also reminded eight states and UTs to file reports indicating their compliance with the July 17 apex court verdict. The top court has specifically asked (the states) for action taken in compliance of the directions contained under the heading “preventive measures”.



The government yesterday approved the new telecom policy and named it “National Digital Communications Policy (NDCP) 2018”, which is aimed at ensuring availability of at least 50 mbps broadband speed to every citizen of the country and at the same time attract $100-billion investment, which will create 40 lakh jobs in the sector by 2022.

Briefing media after the meeting of the Union Cabinet, which was chaired by Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Telecom Minister Manoj Sinha said since communication systems have been evolving at a rapid pace globally, especially in areas like 5G, Internet of Things and Machine to Machine information sharing, there has for long been a need felt to bring a “consumer-centric and application-driven policy” in the country.



Many business models of both conventional finance firms and fintechs will collapse if private players cannot use Aadhaar for onboarding customers. The ability to pull up an individual’s details in an instant had dramatically reduced the time and cost of onboarding customers — what cost over Rs 100 for acquiring customers earlier had come down to Rs 15 due to Aadhaar. As a result, not only private enterprises like Paytm’s e-wallet but government entities such as SBI and India Post Payments Bank had built their digital accounts around Aadhaar.

But fintechs feel that the government will have to come out with a solution, otherwise the business use-case for Aadhaar would go away and it will be only a social welfare tool. Cyrus Khambata, CEO of security depository CDSL Ventures, said, “Online brokerage houses will definitely be affected as nearly 100% of their customer onboarding is via e-KYC. Even for traditional broking houses — such as Angel Broking, Motilal Oswal, ICICI Securities and HDFC Securities, that have a physical presence in multiple cities — this will have an impact. Non-online broking houses source 35-40% of business through e-onboarding, as the time taken is 10 minutes versus the physical mode that takes three-four days.”



Mushfiqur Rahim struck a valiant 99 as Bangladesh produced an all-round effort to stun Pakistan by 37 runs in the last Super Four match and progress to the final of the Asia Cup here Wednesday. Mushfiqur was unlucky as he fell one short of what could have been his seventh ODI century but did enough to rescue Bangladesh with a 144-run fourth wicket stand with Mohammad Mithun after they were reduced to 12 for three inside five overs. Later, opener Imam-ul-Haq (83) turned out to be the lone bright spot as Pakistan faltered in pursuit of the modest chase to be restricted to 202 for nine.

Just like Bangladesh, Pakistan’s chase got off to a disastrous start as they were reduced to 18 for three in 3.3 overs. But Imam did not give up the fight and stitched two crucial partnerships with Shoaib Malik (30) and Asif Ali (31) to keep Pakistan in the hunt.

Bangladesh will now take on India in the title clash in Dubai on Friday.



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 By themselves, character and integrity do not accomplish anything. But their absence faults everything else. – Peter Drucker



Two very successful psychoanalysts occupied offices in the same building. One was 40 years old, the other over 70.

They rode on the elevator together at the end of an unbearably hot, sticky day. The younger man was completely done in, and he noted with some resentment that his senior was fresh and relaxed.

“I don’t understand,” he marveled, “how you can listen to patients from morning till night on a day like this and still look so spry and unbothered when it’s over?”

The older analyst said simply, “Who listens?”

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