Who is Usha Ramanathan?
The Supreme Court has declared a citizen’s fundamental right to privacy. The verdict overturns two previous rulings by the apex court which ruled that ‘privacy was not a fundamental right’ and has its origins in the debate over compulsory Aadhaar.
One of the lawyers who has tirelessly petitioned against the Aadhaar project is Usha Ramanathan. Here are some things to know about the fearless law and policy expert:
Ramanathan is an SC advocate. She has been studying Aadhaar since 2009.
Ramanathan has repeatedly come out and said that Aadhaar is deeply problematic. It is all about compulsion, not consent, she has said
She has spoken out about the dangers of a data breach, and of concerns about data being bought and sold. Personal information becomes vulnerable to hacking and government surveillance in such a system.
“The story of Aadhaar is one of coercion, rampant illegality and outrageous contempt of Supreme Court orders through which the project has built its database,” she has written
Coercion has forced people to get on the database without consent and without an opt-out provision. Failures of the biometric system have to by borne by individuals and there is no liability when the system falsely accepts or rejects a person, she has said.
Ramanathan studied law at Madras University, the University of Nagpur and Delhi University. She is a research fellow at the Centre for the Study of Developing Societies. Besides, she teaches environmental law, labour law and consumer law at the Indian Law Institute. She is a regular guest professor many universities around the world.
She is a member of Amnesty International’s Advisory Panel on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights.
Dr Ramanathan is also the South Asia Editor of the Law, Environment and Development Journal (LEAD Journal), a peer-reviewed academic journal jointly published by IELRC and SOAS.
Picture Credit: Business Standard