Congress moves Supreme Court against Aadhaar Bill

The controversy now takes a new twist as it is generally believed that the Speaker’s discretion is final in the matter.

April 08, 2016 03:42 am | Updated November 17, 2021 01:57 am IST - NEW DELHI:

Senior Congress leader Jairam Ramesh on Thursday said he had challenged the Aadhaar Bill in the Supreme Court, seeking to block its implementation unless it was cleared by the Rajya Sabha.

Since Finance Minister Arun Jaitley introduced the Aadhaar Bill as a money Bill in the last session of Parliament, the Opposition parties could not challenge it in the Rajya Sabha.

“It is important because declaring the Aadhaar Bill as money Bill violates Article 110 of the Constitution and has grave implications for the future of Rajya Sabha itself,” Mr. Ramesh told The Hindu. “I believe we have an iron clad case. This has relevance to the future of the Rajya Sabha itself and that is why I took this step after a great deal of consideration and consultation.”

The Congress’s move in the Supreme Court opens a new debate that whether or not a money Bill can be challenged on legal grounds. Usually, if the Speaker in Parliament recognises any particular Bill as money Bill, the decision is considered indisputable, and the Bill is passed even if it is facing criticism from the Opposition parties.

Accusing the NDA government of showing “utter contempt” towards the Rajya Sabha, Mr. Ramesh said that in order to avoid discussion over the drawbacks of the Aadhaar Bill, Mr. Jaitley dodged the Upper House scrutiny by tabling it as a money Bill.

Back then, Congress leaders in the Rajya Sabha recommended five amendments to the Bill but the Lok Sabha on March 16 brushed them aside and went ahead to pass the Bill.

Though Aadhaar, a biometric identification system that aims to weed out corruption and malpractices in distribution of government subsidies was the UPA-led government’s initiative, Mr. Ramesh urged a caution that certain clauses in the Bill could harm personal freedom as it gave “sweeping powers” to the government on the grounds of national security.

Mr. Ramesh said it was unclear how much power the Aadhaar authorities would have when it came to data collection.

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