Aadhaar legislation comes as money bill to skip Rajya Sabha hurdle

04 March 2016

The government on Thursday introduced in the Lok Sabha the Aadhaar (Targeted Delivery of Financial and Other Subsidies, Benefits and Services) Bill, 2016, which seeks to provide statutory backing to Aadhaar for enabling targeted delivery of subsidies and other benefits.

The bill, introduced as a money bill in the Lower House by finance minister Arun Jaitley, would not require Rajya Sabha approval to become law.

Since a money bill can be tabled and passed only in the Lok Sabha and the Rajya Sabha, where the NDA lacks a majority, cannot amend it or refer it to a joint committee of Parliament, the Congress, Left, Trinamool and Biju Janata Dal have opposed the legislative strategy.

All that the Upper House can do is to make recommendations and, in any case, has to return the bill to the Lok Sabha within 14 days.

''We are ready to cooperate on the bill but it should not come as a money bill. They are doing this to avoid the Rajya Sabha,'' said Mallikarjun Kharge, leader of the Congress in the Lok Sabha.

Kharge also said that he had written to parliamentary affairs minister Venkaiah Naidu on Wednesday, expressing concern that its introduction was not discussed in the business advisory committee meeting.

BJD's Bhartruhari Mahtab said the bill was part of the Rajya Sabha. ''We don't know whether it has been withdrawn.''

Finance minister Jaitley, however, said this bill was substantially different from the earlier one. ''The substance of the bill is that whoever gets subsidies, will have to produce Aadhaar. This is in accordance with Article 110,'' he said.

Later, the finance minister withdrew the earlier bill, The National Identification Authority of India Bill, 2010, in the Rajya Sabha.

Aadhar now covers 985 million people and the new bill has provision regarding security, privacy and confidentiality of information in possession or control of the authority, including information stored in the Central Identities Data Repository.

Aadhaar cards, which is now the world's biggest biometric ID programme, also has an approved Budget outlay of Rs13,663 crore to meet the estimated expenditure on implementation up to 2016-17.

Of this, about Rs7,253 crore, including Rs6,844 crore on payments for enrolments, logistics operations, Aadhaar Sampark Kendras, technology infrastructure, operations etc and an additional Rs409 crore on ''establishment'' expenses have been spent till 31 December 2015.

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