Money Bill or not, Speaker’s call is final: Centre on Aadhaar Bill

SansadTV Bureau
File photo of senior Congress leader Jairam Ramesh.  Photo - PTI

File photo of senior Congress leader Jairam Ramesh.
Photo – PTI

Opposing Congress leader Jairam Ramesh’s petition challenging the Lok Sabha Speaker’s decision to certify Bill on Aadhaar as money bill, the Centre contended that Speaker’s decision cannot be contested. The Bill was passed in Lok Sabha last year in the Budget session amid Congress opposition to treat it as a money bill. The court has now deferred the matter for four weeks.

Congress leader and Rajya Sabha MP Jairam Ramesh had approached the Supreme Court challenging Centre’s decision to treat Aadhaar bill as a money bill.

Passing the legislation, government had even overruled the amendments moved in Rajya Sabha. Criticising the government, Ramesh had accused it of showing “utter contempt” to the Upper house for taking the money bill route to pass the Aadhaar bill.

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 in March last year, 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.

Aadhaar UIDAI

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, 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.

“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.

Moving amendments in the Upper House during the consideration of the bill, Ramesh, 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 an independent member like the CVC should be included in the panel that decides which information regarding a person can be shared.