Amendments in Aadhaar Bill by Rajya Sabha not justified: Jaitley

Finance Minister Arun Jaitley with IMF Chief Christine Lagarde in New Delhi on March 11, 2016.


Finance Minister Arun Jaitley on Friday justified the rejections of the amendments made by the Rajya Sabha to the Aadhaar Bill.

Justifying the rejection of the amendments by the Lok Sabha, he said adoption of changes would have pushed the legislation, aimed at streamlining the payment of benefits, into realms of unconstitutionality.

Acceptance of the amendments would have led to much wider encroachment of the Right of Privacy and an auditor or an anti-corruption authority overseeing issues of national security, he said.

These lacunae would have pushed the Aadhaar law to the realm of unconstitutionality. Obviously, the Lok Sabha did not agree with the above suggestions, and in my view, rightly so,” he said in a Facebook post.

The Lok Sabha on the last of the first half of Budget session on Wednesday waited for Rajya Sabha to decide on the Aadhaar (Targeted Delivery of Financial and Other Subsidies, Benefits and Services) Bill, 2016, and then swiftly rejected the amendments made to the legislation.

The amendments to be bill in Rajya Sabha, where theruling NDA does not have majority, were moved by Congress members including Jairam Ramesh.

Jaitley said the legislation, aimed at better targeting of subsidies and benefits through use of unique identification number, contains stringent provisions both substantially and procedurally to protect privacy.

While National Security is the only ground on which aCompetent Authority can share core bio-metric information contained in Aadhaar, amendments wanted the condition to be replaced with “vague” and “elastic” Public Emergency or in the interest of public safety.

“It is also not clear as to how Aadhaar information wouldhave been used in dealing with situations of public emergency or public safety,” he said.

Jaitley said adoption of the amendment “would have provided a scope much wider for encroaching upon privacy than the words ‘National Security’ which existed in both the 2010 (law moved by the UPA) and 2016 law, and would have potentially become the grounds for constitutional challenge at a later date.”

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