New Delhi: The Aadhaar Bill, which gives statutory backing to the unique identity number scheme for better targeting of subsidies has been passed in Parliament after Lok Sabha rejected the amendments introduced in Rajya Sabha.
Just moments before it was adjourned till April 25 for scrutiny of budget, the Lok Sabha adopted the Aadhar (Targeted Delivery of Financial and other subsidies, benefits and services) Bill 2016, by a voice vote amid walk out by opposition parties.
The Lok Sabha had initially passed the bill as a money bill, which means that the Rajya Sabha cannot amend it but only make recommendations for amendment to the Lok Sabha. 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.
In last-ditch attempts, Opposition members had appealed to the government to respect the “wisdom” of the house of elders and accept their amendments in a democratic spirit and not to reject them on “ego”.
The government considers the Aadhar bill as a significant instrument for implementing its Direct Benefit Transfer (DBT) schemes by better targeting of beneficiaries but the Opposition attacked the government saying it was violating the Supreme Court direction that Aadhar card cannot be made mandatory but should only be voluntary.
Finance Minister Arun Jaitley, who moved the bill and piloted them in both the Houses, also turned down opposition argument that Parliament cannot legislate since the matter is before Supreme Court. “Parliament cannot abdicate its duty under the Constitutional which clearly separates powers among various institutions,” he said.
During the discussion over the bill, the opposition parties had raised a strong objection in Rajya Sabha over treating the Aadhaar bill as a money bill. Members of Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP), Trinamool Congress (TMC) and Biju Janata Dal (BJD) had also walked out of the House raising objections on several issues concerning the measure.
The process of return of the bill saw an animated debate over why it was brought as a money bill, with a number of opposition members also raising concern over privacy and national security on the biometric data of Indians so collected through the scheme.
Brushing aside the objections by the Opposition, Finance Minister Arun Jaitley said the Aadhaar Bill was a money bill as it dealt with the way public money or subsidy will be distributed among the needy under various government schemes.