Aadhaar bill tabled in LS amid protest

Aadhaar bill tabled in LS amid protest

A new Aadhaar bill was introduced in the Lok Sabha amid objection from the opposition. The opposition said the NDA government is placing it as a money bill to avoid the legislation going to the Rajya Sabha where the ruling alliance is in minority.

When Finance minister Arun Jaitley introduced the bill,  some Congress and BJD members expressed reservation over it reminding the treasury bench that a similar legislation was conceived by the UPA government and is pending in Parliament. 

Jaitley responded by saying that the new legislation was “substantially different” and “confined to government expenditure” which fits the definition of money bill. The bill intends to provide benefits, subsidies or services funded from the Consolidated Fund of India through Aadhaar.

Congress member Jyotiraditya Scindia pointed out that the UPA government had a National Identification Authority of India Bill, 2010, which was pending in Rajya Sabha and wondered why it was being introduced as a money bill.      

Leader of the Opposition Mallikarjun Kharge said: “They have no objection to the fresh legislation, but it should not be brought as money bill. The speaker kept on insisting that she did not get any notice over the issue from members and she has allowed the finance minister only to introduce it.”

BJD MP Bhartruhari Mahtab too red flagged the introduction of the bill and wanted to know whether the Aadhaar number will be treated as an evidence of citizenship and whether there was adequate firewall to protect privacy of people holding the unique identity number card.

Countering Opposition’s  take on the bill, Jaitley remarked that he had a list of money bills the UPA had brought, including juvenile justice, African banks and workmen injury compensation. He also assured Mahtab, the Cuttack BJD MP of Odisha, that both his concerns have been addressed in the tabled legislation. The Cabinet had cleared the bill on Wednesday after Jaitley in his Budget speech had announced that the Centre would give statutory backing to Aadhaar to ensure that there are no leakages in distribution of subsidies and money for other social schemes.

Checking leak in DBT

The Aadhaar (Targeted Delivery of Financial and
Other Subsidies, Benefits and Services) Bill seeks to:

 Provide statutory backing to use Aadhaar number for delivery of various benefits, subsidies and services

 Take measures pertaining to security, privacy and confidentiality of information in possession of Unique Identification Authority

 Make it clear that the Aadhaar number is not a proof of citizenship or domicile
 Government claims it could save Rs 20,000 crore by using Aadhaar to ensure that subsidies reach only the needy

 Provide for a framework to ensure that the biometric details of citizens collected by the Authority are kept discreet and used only to generate Aadhaar numbers and to authenticate the same.

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