SC to hear Jairam Ramesh plea against Aadhar Act

The Supreme Court on Monday agreed to hear the plea of Congress leader Jairam Ramesh challenging the propriety of the government introducing the Aadhaar Act as a money bill, and asked Attorney General Mukul Rohatgi to address the court on the issue.

A bench of Chief Justice T S Thakur, Justice R Banumathi and Justice Uday Umesh Lalit asked Rohatgi to address the court on the issue as senior counsel P Chidambaram told the court that presenting the Aadhaar Act as a money bill was unconstitutional.

Appearing for Ramesh, who moved the public interest litigation, Chidambaram, a senior counsel and former union finance minister, told the court that while some bills are called finance bills, very few would qualify as money bills, which do not need assent of the Rajya Sabha, which cannot also amend them, but only suggest changes, which the lower house may disregard.

After passing the Aadhaar Act in one house (Lok Sabha), the government got it passed in the other house (Rajya Sabha) as a money bill and that is unconstitutional, he said.

Ramesh has challenged the constitutional validity of the Aadhaar (Targeted Delivery of Financial and other Subsidies, Benefits and Services) Act, 2016, enacted on 26 March, terming its introduction as a money bill as nothing but a "brazen and mala fide attempt to bypass the approval of the Rajya Sabha which holds an important place in the Constitutional and democratic framework of law-making".

He also contended that it impacted the fundamental rights of the citizens and residents under the Constitution's Articles 14 and 21, and has dangerous implications for imposing restrictions on the rights guaranteed by the Constitution.

It has been contended that since it was brought in as a money bill, it was passed only by the Lok Sabha, bypassing the Upper House, where the NDA government does not have majority support.

Ramesh has sought direction to the central government to produce before the court the "relevant material / documents / files / notings / opinions sought from the law officers which necessitated the respondents (central government) to introduce ordinary bill as money bill and proceed with enacting the impugned act".

The court fixed 10 May as the next date of hearing.