Congress challenges Aadhaar Bill in Supreme Court

RSTV Bureau

Aadhaar UIDAIThe ruling BJP and the principal opposition Congress is bracing for another battle in the corridors of the court. Senior Congress leader and Rajya Sabha MP Jairam Ramesh has approached the Supreme Court challenging Centre’s decision to treat Aadhaar bill as a money bill. The legislation was passed last month in the first leg of Budget session, overruling amendments moved in Rajya Sabha.

Ramesh had accused the BJP-led NDA government of showing “utter contempt” of the Upper house for taking the money bill route to pass the Aadhaar bill.

“Yesterday I have filed a writ petition in the Supreme Court challenging the decision to treat Aadhaar as a money bill,” Ramesh told.

Aadhaar (Targeted Delivery of Financial and other subsidies, benefits and services) Bill, 2016 that aims at better targeting of subsidies through the Aaadhaar unique identity was passed by Lok Sabha last month, soon after five amendments, which were brought in by the opposition, were made by the Rajya Sabha.

But the same evening, Lok Sabha rejected the amendments and adopted the bill as earlier passed by it.

Though the constitution provides that once the Lok Sabha passes a money bill with or without amendments recommended by the Rajya Sabha, it is deemed to have been passed by both the Houses, Congress leader Jairam Ramesh had strongly opposed the government’s move to bring the said bill as a money bill.

During the debate in the Parliament, defending government’s reasoning to bring Aadhaar Bill as money bill, Union Finance Minister Arun Jaitley had also turned down opposition argument that Parliament cannot legislate since the matter is before Supreme Court.

File photo of the Arun Jaitley, Leader of the House (Rajya Sabha). Photo: RSTV

File photo of Arun Jaitley, Leader of the House (Rajya Sabha).
Photo: RSTV

“Parliament cannot abdicate its duty under the Constitution which clearly separates powers among various institutions,” he had said while debating on the floor of Upper house.

On the other hand, objecting to the manner in which the bill was passed, Ramesh had called it a “very dangerous trend” adding that the government tried to “bypass” the Rajya Sabha by doing this.

Backing his opposition, Ramesh argued that a series of conditions are specified in Article 110 and that Article 110 uses the word “only” if those conditions are prevalent can a bill be declared a money bill.

“It had many other provisions and most constitutional experts have given the view that the Aadhaar Bill is not a money bill. While the prerogative of declaring a bill as a money bill or not is that of the Speaker and the Speaker’s decision is final but the recommendation to the Speaker to consider making it a money bill is that of the Government,” Ramesh had said.

“It is the government that decides whether it is a money bill or not and the Speaker only certifies it as money bill,” he said arguing further.

Moving amendments in the Upper House during the consideration of the bill, the former Union Minister had argued that every individual should have the freedom to opt out of Aadhaar and said the present Bill does not give that space.

He also opposed another provision in the Bill which he termed as “broad” and “amorphous” and could become the ground for misuse of the law as it gives “sweeping powers” on the grounds of national security.

He suggested that rather than national security, the terms “public emergency” or “public safety” could be used. He suggested that an independent member like the CVC should be included in the panel that decides which information regarding a person can be shared.

(With inputs from the PTI)