Aadhaar bill passed, Changes by Rajya Sabha rejected

File Photo: Finance Minister Arun Jaitley speaking in Lok Sabha during the budget session of 2016.

An important bill to avoid leakage of massive government subsidies by authorising the collection and use of biometric data of beneficiaries was approved by Parliament on Wednesday.

The government had introduced the bill as a money bill which does not require approval of the Rajya Sabha. However, the bill was discussed in the Rajya Sabha which approved 5 amendments in the bill sent by the Lok Sabha.
However, in the late night debate, Lok Sabha rejected all the amendments made by the Rajya Sabha and approved the bill as it was passed by the Lok Sabha originally.

During his reply in the Lok Sabha Finance Minister Arun Jaitley said that the amendments moved by members of the upper house have nothing to do with the bill brought in by NDA. He assured the house that government has tightened the privacy provisions.

” The core biometric details will not be shared. It will enable the government to provide benefits to only who need it,” said Jaitley.

After the clearance from parliament, government is awaiting for the presidential assent to extend the use of Aadhaar to a range of services beyond the five presently permitted by the Supreme Court of India.

The Aadhaar bill was returned to Lok Sabha under the provisions of Article 109 as it was introduced as a money bill.

On Wednesday , the upper house returned the Aadhaar Bill back to the Lok Sabha with Amendments.

The Upper House discussed and voted on amendments moved by Congress leader Jairam Ramesh, amid a walkout by members from TMC, BJD and BSP, who objected to the government’s proposal to make it a money bill.

The legislation, presented in the Lok Sabha by Finance Minister Arun Jaitley, will give legal validity to the unique identification number for targeted transfer of government subsidies and benefits.

The bill introduced by the UPA government in 2010 had lapsed with the Fifteenth Lok Sabha.

Opposition benches had demanded a ruling of the chair on whether the bill could be taken up. CPI (M) leader Sitaram Yechury said the bill was beyond the legislative competence of the house.

“The bill is ultra virus. It violates individual’s privacy. SC constituted a 5-member bench. It (the bill) is to subvert the judicial verdict,” said Yechury.

Members of Samajwadi Party and CPI also opposed the government’s decision to treat the Aadhaar bill as a money bill.

Rajya Sabha Deputy Chairman ruled that the house cannot object the motion to move the bill for consideration as it has been declared a money bill by Lok Sabha Speaker and transmitted to Rajya Sabha.

“It is very clear, we are not permitted to sit on judgement on what Lok Sabha Speaker said, and the decision of the Speaker is final,” said the Deputy Chairman disposing objections raised by the members.

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