Rajya Sabha passes Aadhaar bill with amendments; Lok Sabha likely to drop changes

16 March 2016

The Rajya Sabha today passed the The Aadhaar (Targeted Delivery of Financial and Other Subsidies, Benefits and Services) Bill, 2016, with five amendments that the opposition insisted on, but these changes are likely to be rejected when the bill is returned to the lower house, the Lok Sabha.

"We are not against the Aadhaar Bill, but it should only be used for identity purpose and not for anything else,'' said Congress leader Jairam Ramesh

"Aadhaar is a proof for identity. It does not entitle me to any subsidy. It only determines that you are you," he said, adding that it must not be made mandatory.

The former union minister said the "whole idea of Aadhaar was to remove duplicity" and cautioned the house that if it was passed in its present form it would become mandatory and would create unnecessary problems.

The bill will now return to Lok Sabha for the amendments to be cleared.

However, the lower house, where the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) holds majority, is likely to reject the amendments.

The Lok Sabha had passed the bill as a Money Bill, a move to which principal opposition Congress had objected.

The bill proposes targeted delivery of subsidies and services to people residing in India by assigning them unique identity numbers.

A Money Bill, as per Article 110 of the Indian Constitution, is a bill that imposes, abolishes, remits, alters or regulates of any tax; regulates government borrowings; the Consolidated and Contingency Funds of India; or ''any matter incidental to any of the matters specified in sub-clauses (a) to (f)''.

As per Article 109 of the Constitution, ''After a Money Bill has been passed by the House of the People it shall be transmitted to the Council of States for its recommendations and the Council of States shall within a period of fourteen days from the date of its receipt of the Bill return the Bill to the House of the People with its recommendations and the House of the People may thereupon either accept or reject all or any of the recommendations of the Council of States''.

''If a Money Bill passed by the House of the People and transmitted to the Council of States for its recommendations is not returned to the House of the People within the said period of fourteen days, it shall be deemed to have been passed by both Houses at the expiration of the said period in the form in which it was passed by the House of the People.'' 

Discussing the bill in the Lok Sabha last week, finance minister Arun Jaitley had said that thousands of crores of rupees would be saved by plugging leakages and diversions. (The government claims it has saved Rs14,672 crore in one year by using DBT for LPG.)

He had also rejected the opposition's demand for referring the Bill to a standing committee and their concerns of privacy. The opposition had also raised concern that Aadhaar could be used for "mass surveillance" and "ethnic cleansing".

But for the government, passing the Aadhaar Bill is key to its highly ambitious financial inclusion programme.

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