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Corrupt may get leeway by citing privacy concerns: Arun Jaitley

Arun Jaitley spoke at length on the need to bring transparency in electoral funding and how despite best efforts the system has failed to arrive at a foolproof way to prevent entry of criminals into politics.

Written by Abantika Ghosh | New Delhi | Updated: September 2, 2017 7:00 am
Arun Jaitley, Privacy, right to privacy, Fundamantal right, Supreme court, Sc on privacy, Arun  Jaitley privacy, RTI, Aadhaar, India news, indian express news “The balance between privacy and transparency is a challenge,” said Jaitley. (File photo)

A week after the Supreme Court ruled that privacy is a fundamental right, Finance Minister Arun Jaitley said that privacy “comes in the way of accountability” and that achieving a balance “between privacy and transparency” was a challenge.

“The UPA government started Aadhaar without legislative backing. Addressing the Rajya Sabha on March 16, 2016, I had said that even though there is a judgement that says there is no right to privacy, I presume a privacy right. The Supreme Court has used almost the same arguments to grant the right to privacy. But now privacy comes in the way of accountability,” said Jaitley.

“The balance between privacy and transparency is a challenge,” said Jaitley, while speaking at the first Charti Lal Goel Memorial Lecture on “New India – Politics with Transparency”.

Elaborating on his apprehensions, the Finance Minister said, “A bureaucrat may argue that disclosing jewellery holdings hurts his wife’s privacy or in revenue-related matters, a man spending Rs 1 crore could say how he spent it is his private business. The corrupt may thus get a leeway citing privacy concerns.”

West Bengal and Bihar Governor Keshari Nath Tripathi, who also addressed the gathering, called for introspection on whether criminals planning a crime or “anti-national elements” hatching a conspiracy in a closed room would be covered by the right to privacy.

Jaitley spoke at length on the need to bring transparency in electoral funding and how despite best efforts the system has failed to arrive at a foolproof way to prevent entry of criminals into politics.

“We are not talking about trade union leaders with cases against them, these are heinous offenders. In line with the increased focus on transparency, there is a need to look at electoral funding also. When I was Law Minister in the (A B) Vajpayee Cabinet, I brought a law and Pranab Mukherjee as standing committee chairman further finetuned it. People making political donations through cheques would get tax benefit. But people were apprehensive about openly flaunting their political colours. That is why it never caught on. Now we are working on the proposal for electoral bonds that I pitched for in this year’s Budget speech. The challenge here is to strike a balance between transparency and getting in clean money,” Jaitley said.

Tracing the culture of transparency from the time when filing election affidavits came as a surprise, to the age of the Right To Information Act, Jaitley said it is in line with court judgments where judges have made observations such as “sunlight is the best disinfectant”.

Calling himself a strong votary of changes in the Prevention of Corruption Act in the interest of better governance, Jaitley said the present law since it dates back to before economic liberalisation makes bureaucrats vulnerable. “Even a decision taken in all honesty without any financial transactions if proved at a later stage to have caused losses, can make the person liable for prosecution. Many retired bureaucrats have been thus harassed. Governance cannot happen if officers are scared to take decisions. Atmosphere of distrust is not good for governance,” Jaitley said.

In his speech, Tripathi spoke about Goel’s foresight in fearing that Parliament and state assemblies would end up becoming “centres of noise and chaos and not serious discussion”. Goel was Speaker of the Delhi Assembly and father of Union Sports Minister Vijay Goel.

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  1. R
    Reader
    Sep 3, 2017 at 10:10 am
    If the Indian Finance Minister reads the privacy laws of the United States, he may say that all Americans are corrupt. The privacy laws of the United States deal with several different legal concepts. One is the invasion of privacy, a tort based in common law allowing an aggrieved party to bring a lawsuit against an individual who unlawfully intrudes into his or her private affairs, discloses his or her private information, publicizes him or her in a false light, or appropriates his or her name for personal gain. The essence of the law derives from a right to privacy, defined broadly as 'the right to be let alone.' Invasion of the right to privacy can be the basis for a lawsuit for damages against the person or enti-ty violating the right. These include the Fourth Amendment to the United States Consti-tution, which prohibits unreasonable searches and seizures. Normally, it requires governmental searches and seizures to be conducted only upon issuance of a judicially sanctioned warrant.
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    1. R
      Reader
      Sep 3, 2017 at 8:32 am
      UK’s Biometric ID Database was dismantled. Why the United Kingdom's biometrics-linked National Ident-ity Card project to create a centralized register of sensitive information about residents similar to Aadhaar was scrapped in 2010? The reasons were the massive threat posed to the privacy of people, the possibility of a surveillance state, the dangers of maintaining such a huge centralized repository of sensitive information, and the purposes it could be used for, and the dangers of such a centralized database being hacked. The other reasons were the unreliability of such a large-scale biometric verification processes, and the ethics of using biometric identification.
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      1. R
        Reader
        Sep 3, 2017 at 8:31 am
        The U.S. Social Security Number (SSN) has no biometric details, no photograph, no physical description and no birth date. All it does is confirm that a particular number has been issued to a particular name. Instead, a driving license or state ID card is used as an identification for adults. The U.S. government does not collect the biometric details of its own citizens.
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        1. A
          AADHAARISCORRUPT
          Sep 3, 2017 at 8:07 am
          #AADHAARISCORRUPT AADHAAR is Trillion dollar scam to enslave billion Indians. You can throw AADHAAR in dustbin by putting Fevicol in finger before you are forced to give fingerprint. It will blind the fingerprint scanner. Jai Hind! 25 lakh families in Rajasthan are unable to withdraw ration even after seeding Aadhaar with their ration card. Aadhaar authentication does not work for half billion Indians. Aadhaar authentication does not work even after updating bio-metrics and waiting for 90 days. AADHAAR bio-metrics can be stolen, printed and used for Aadhaar pay. Aadhaar does not work for NRIs, people outside India. Aadhaar cannot be generated if a person's fingerprint matches with someone else's with 60 percentage probability. Rogue government can deactivate your Aadhaar blocking your gas, electricity, mobile, bank account. Aadhaar works for millions of illegals staying in India. Millions of duplicate Aadhaar were created by Aadhaar agents using “biometric-exception”.
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          1. Appan Menon
            Sep 2, 2017 at 12:23 pm
            I agree with Arun Jaitley, and his anti-privacy concerns. But when the politicians in power can be privy to the personal matters of all citizens, is it not fair for such politicians to share their asset details with the public? There are talks going round about the sudden and unexplained spurt in personal assets of Mr. Jaitley in a short span of time. Will he make an example by allowing public scrutiny of his income-tax returns for a few suspect years, and deprivatzing the sources, and details of his incomes for public scrutiny???
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