March 22, 2020

Stop Draconian Misuse of Technology

CPI(M)  Polit Bureau has issued the following statements on March 13

THE Polit Bureau of the CPI(M) strongly condemns the claim of the union home minister, Amit Shah, made during the debate in parliament on the communal violence in Delhi that the police and the government are using face recognition technology for identifying the miscreants responsible for the violence.

There is no way that the technology can precisely link the protestors with violation of law. It has been also further revealed that there are clear video footages to suggest that the police was involved in breaking down CCTV cameras, let alone facilitating the rioting mobs themselves, implying that the footage itself used as evidence for processing could very well be chosen in a partisan manner.

What is more surprising is the fact that the Delhi police and the ministry of women and child development admitted before the Delhi High Court that the system had an accuracy rate of two per cent in 2018 which  subsequently dropped to a meagre one per cent in 2019 and could not even make a gender distinction.

It is clear that there is no legal framework, or, any judicial order to back the deployment of such technology for the purpose indicated by the home minister. The Polit Bureau wants to firmly point out that such indiscriminate use of this technology is an infringement on privacy rights as well as the freedom of protest.

The Polit Bureau strongly rejects the suggestion of the home minister that this technology does not make distinction between caste, creed and religious identity of miscreants which, for the stated reasons, will no doubt be draconian and needs to be thoroughly rejected.

Scrap Rules and Amend the 2003 Citizenship Amendment Act

THE union home minister, Amit Shah, in his reply to the discussion on the ghastly communal violence that rocked Delhi recently thundered that “no one needs to fear about NPR; no one will be marked doubtful in the updating process”.

If, indeed, this BJP government is honest about this remark, then they need to amend the 2003 Rules under the Amendment to the Citizenship Act.  Rules numbers –  3, 4, 5, 5 (a), (b), 6 (a), (b), (c) – deal exclusively with the process of preparation of the NPR and the identification of individuals whose citizenship is doubtful and prescribe the further process of enquiry and documentation required for people thus marked as doubtful.

If the home minister’s assurance to the parliament is to be believed, then this government should immediately scrap these Rules.  In which case, the relevant clauses in the 2003 Amendment to the Citizenship Act that provide a legal status for the NRC would be rendered infructuous and, hence, the law should also be amended to scrap the NRC.

A majority of the state governments, representing large populations, have expressed their opposition to the NRC. Respecting this as well, the 2003 amendment should be suitably amended to scrap the NRC.

The Polit Bureau of the CPI(M) categorically asserts that mere assertions in the parliament do not evince confidence amongst the people that the NPR will not be used on a later date to facilitate the NRC. The relevant rules must be scrapped and the 2003 Act amended.