Legal position of Telangana property ‘census’ exercise tenuous

Immediately after coming to power, the TRS government, on 19 August 2014, had taken up an integrated family survey of all households.

Published: 16th October 2020 05:01 AM  |   Last Updated: 16th October 2020 05:01 AM   |  A+A-


Telangana Chief Minister K Chandrasekhar Rao

The Telangana government’s intention to document non-agriculture property details digitally for uploading them to the Dharani portal under the Integrated Land Management System (ILMS) may seem to be a step in the right direction, but exerting pressure on people to part with all their family details such as caste and Aadhaar is not.

There is no need for the government to deploy the entire staff across the state, including those who are on Covid-19 duties, for enumeration and uploading the data to Dharani as it already has all the data with it. 

Immediately after coming to power, the TRS government, on 19 August 2014, had taken up an integrated family survey of all households. No one knows what the government had done with that data and how legitimate the whole exercise was. CM K Chandrasekhar Rao, while announcing the present digital survey recently, set Dasara as the deadline for commissioning the revamped Dharani portal.

Racing against time, the entire government machinery has no other work now but visit each and every household for collection and uploading of data. Interestingly, in all districts, officials are dishing out statistics of the number of properties whose details had to be collected and the work done thus far.

This makes one wonder why the survey is being done in the first place when the government knows how many people possess how much property—all these details like Aadhaar and photographs are already available with government agencies at the time of registering the properties. 

The most glaring deficiency in the entire process is that the exercise has no backing of law and if there is one, the government is yet to state it. The exercise could amount to a violation of Article 13 (without the backing of law) and  Article 21 (infringement of personal liberty). The government should have known that for the creation of Aadhaar, an Act had been brought, but for Dharani, no such attempt was made.

It is possible that linking Aadhaar with property details is not going to serve any purpose other than, probably, profiling of people and their assets. As Aadhaar data could be used only for welfare schemes, it is clear as daylight that its linking with property is verboten. If not, the government should state from which law it is drawing the power to undertake the current exercise.


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