Aadhaar verdict restrained a rampaging government: Cong

Aadhaar verdict restrained a rampaging government: Cong

Congress leader Kapil Sibal speaks as Ashok Gehlot, Randeep Singh Surjewala and others look on during a press conference at AICC, in New Delhi, on Wednesday. (PTI Photo)

Congress on Wednesday claimed victory after Supreme Court struck down certain sections of the Aadhaar Act saying it had restrained a “rampaging government” from using the unique identity initiative as a “surveillance tool”.

Congress also saw a silver lining in the apex court's unanimous agreement over making the decisions of the Lok Sabha speaker open to judicial scrutiny saying it would now enable the Opposition to challenge any move by the government to undermine the Parliament's role.

“For Congress, Aadhaar was an instrument of empowerment. For the BJP, Aadhaar is a tool of oppression and surveillance. Thank you Supreme Court for supporting the Congress vision and protecting India,” Congress President Rahul Gandhi tweeted.

Congress leader Jairam Ramesh had moved court after the Parliament passed the Aadhaar (Targeted Delivery of Financial and Other Subsidies, Benefits and Services) Bill in March 2016 rejecting the amendments suggested by the Rajya Sabha.

Lok Sabha Speaker Sumitra Mahajan had categorised the Bill as a “money bill” arguing that it contained provisions for taxes and appropriation of funds from the exchequer. Ramesh had challenged the listing of the bill as a “money bill”.

“For now, we can be satisfied that a rampaging government has been restrained and the reach of Aadhaar has been contained to benefits, subsidies and services paid out of the Consolidated Fund of India,” senior Congress leader P Chidambaram said.

Former law minister Kapil Sibal said that the Congress would approach the Supreme Court for review of the majority verdict that agreed with the government's view that Aadhaar Bill was a money bill.

Sibal claimed that the Congress never wanted the Supreme Court to strike down the entire Aadhaar Act as it would have affected the welfare schemes for the poor.

“UPA wanted the marginalised to be protected. Had the law been struck down, the marginalised would not have got the benefits due to them,” Sibal said.

Later, a party statement said that the government sees Aadhaar not as a viable tool for the delivery of benefits but as a "mechanism to be misused by forcibly collecting data from the public and harvesting the same for the purposes of surveillance".

"The Congress Party stands for an Aadhaar which is voluntary and backed by a valid law. It stands for an Aadhaar which provides a genuinely stable, secure and viable alternative to existing forms of identification aimed at making it the most important tool for delivery of benefits rather than an invasion of privacy," it said.

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