The Lokniti Foundation is a secretive organisation with no website, no presence on social media, and no public list of trustees. Their registered office is a sealed building in south Delhi’s outskirts. According to its brochure, it is a non-profit established “with the primary objective to improve the quality of life of the people in social, political & economic spheres through public policy initiatives, intervention and programs.” It’s mission, according to the document, is “[t]o be the ears, eyes and hands of the judicial system to create equality in the society.”
A Huff Post India article talks about the central government’s enthusiasm in taking up Lokniti’s PILs. The Aadhaar-mobile linking and the DNA Profiling Bill are its most successful ‘lobbying’ efforts till date.
After the Aadhaar petition by Lokniti was heard in court, the government used it to claim that the Supreme Court had made it mandatory to link Aadhaar to mobile phones. Only last week was it revealed during a hearing on Aadhaar that there was no such direction from the Supreme Court.
Another PIL filed by the NGO in 2012, asks the government to create a DNA database of unidentified dead bodies so that it could be used to later trace their identity and help police investigation on missing persons. The NGO’s PIL fast-tracked the process of a similar system that had been suggested by the CBI, five years previously in 2007. In 2017, the government told the Supreme Court that it was drafting a ‘Human DNA Profiling Bill’.
Lokniti’s executive members are retired, and senior serving members of the IAS, IPS and IRS. While it is unclear if the group has any political affiliations, one of its Hindi publications, Vichar Parikrama, lists several present and past politicians from various political parties among its “prominent writers”. It is not uncommon to use PILs to influence government policy, but for an organisation to be largely made up of high-ranking government officers to use this approach is curious.