Aadhaar Bill Passed in LS, to Enter RS as Money Bill

ALLAYING CONCERNS Finance Minister Arun Jaitley gives the bill a pro-poor pitch, reassures Opposition against privacy violation or breach of security
Finance Minister Arun Jaitley on Friday sought to reassure the Opposition in the Lok Sabha by giving a pro-poor political pitch to the Aadhaar bill by saying that the real purpose of the bill was to ensure subsidies reached only the needy, saving in the process thousands of crores of rupees from wastage of resources that can be ploughed back for pro-poor schemes.Jaitley also tried to dispel apprehensions of Opposition members that the bill could have serious implications on the privacy and security of citizens. Jaitley’s assurances came in the process of piloting the passage of the bill through a voice vote in the Lok Sabha after a less than four hour-long, yet animated, debate.

Opposition members such as BJD’s Bhatruhari Mehtab, Congress’ Mallikarjun Kharge and AIADMK’s Venugopal sought to oppose the bill by raising a series of objections by arguing that the bill could not be named a money bill (that Rajya Sabha cannot reject a money bill), that the legislation had potential to be misused on matters concerning privacy and security and the bill should be first referred to a standing committee for more discussions.

Jaitley rejected each of the charges.He cited precedents of certain bills categorized as money bills, cited how the legislation had modified with provision to draw money from the Consolidated Fund of India. He defended the pushing the bill through without referring to the House panel it reaches the RS.

“This bill will empower states to distribute resources of the state to deserving people and save the resources that undeserving people get…The effect is going to be on the Centre and state governments which will save thousands of crore,“ Jaitley said. He also said there are provisions in the bill that fire-walls all information, including biometric details, to be protected so that those details will not be shared with any unauthorised agencies. With regard o Opposition suggestion regarding definition of national security, he said, it was for the courts to define what fell under national security.

Tathagat Satpathy (BJD) said there were fears that a government may use the provisions of the bill for “mass surveillance“ and “ethnic cleansing“, triggering protest from BJP benches. “More dangerous is collection of biological data,“ he said. Rajeev Satav of Congress called he government push with the bill as “yet another U-turn“ .