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GS Mains Foundation 2018
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Aadhar bill controversy

The Aadhaar bill has come under controversy due to its passage by the Lok Sabha as a ‘Money Bill’, ignoring amendments recommended by the Upper House of Parliament and raised questions over the final role of the speaker in certifying a bill as money bill.

Background:

1. Recently, the Aadhaar Bill was passed as Money Bills, despite it not meeting the strict criteria laid out in the Constitution.

2. This meant that the Rajya Sabha had only a recommendatory role while discussing these Bills.

3. This debate has also raised questions about the discretion of the speaker which requires him to certify a money bill before being passed on to the other house.

What is a money bill?

Money bill is a term in the constitution referring to certain class of bills which contain taxation proposals and proposals related to money matters etc..

Article 110 of the constitution deals with the definition of money bills. It is a money bill if it contains only provisions dealing with all or any of the following matters:

1. imposition, abolition, remission, alteration or regulation of any tax

2. regulation of the borrowing of the union government

3. custody of consolidated or the contingency funds of India, the payment or withdrawal of money from any such fund

4. appropriation of money out of consolidated fund of India.

5. declaration of charged expenditure on consolidated fund or increase the amount of any such expenditure.

6. the receipt of money on account of the consolidated fund of India or public account of India

7. Any matter incidental to any of the matters specified above.

• If any question arises whether a bill is money bill or not the decision of the speaker of lok sabha is final and cannot be questioned in a court of law or in any house of parliament or even president.

Key features of the Aadhaar bill:

1. It seeks to provide a unique identity to residents and give legal teeth to the government in ensuring that its subsidies and services directly reach the beneficiaries in entirety.

2. Citing away the fears related to privacy of citizens, the Aadhaar Bill says “no core biometric information, collected or created under this Act shall be shared with anyone for any reason whatsoever or used for any purpose other than generation of Aadhaar numbers and authentication under this Act”.

3. The bill also aims at providing “good governance, efficient, transparent, and targeted delivery of subsidies, benefits and services”, the expenditure for which is incurred from the Consolidated Fund of India, to individuals residing in India through assigning of unique identity numbers to such individuals.

4. The proposed legislation will also address the uncertainty surrounding the project after the Supreme Court restricted the use of the Aadhaar number until a constitution bench delivers its verdict on a number of cases challenging the mandatory use of Aadhaar in government schemes and rules on the issue of privacy violation

Concerns about the bill:

1. The main objectives of bill are creating a right to obtain a unique identification number and providing for a statutory apparatus to regulate the entire process. The mere fact of establishing the Aadhaar number as the identification mechanism for benefits and subsidies funded by the CFI does not give it the character of a money bill. 

2. Since it was a money Bill, it could not be rejected or amended by Rajya Sabha. The Upper House can only make recommendations for amendments but those have to be agreed to by Lok Sabha to become effective. The Lok Sabha can decide not to agree to any of the recommendations. This is clearly bypassing the upper house.

3. It is commented that the bill was passed as money bill so as to save it from the opposition in the upper house otherwise it would also have been stacked there and not passed like other bills that are pending in Rajya Sabha.

4. According to some experts, the reasons it could not be introduced as a money bill are:

5. This bill also does not deal with the custody of the CFI, etc. The moneys paid into or withdrawn from such funds are incidental.

6. Besides, the bill is not an appropriation bill that appropriates money from the CFI. It does not deal with declaring any expenditure as a charge on that fund.

7. Further, it does not deal with the receipt of money on account of the CFI or the public account, or the custody or issue of such money, or the audit of the accounts of the Union or states.

What are the flaws in present system which requires speaker to certify a bill as money bill?

This discretion is being used by the ruling parties to whistle away the legislative powers of Rajya Sabha and make it a redundant legislative house by sending crucial bills like money bills as rajya sabha doesn’t have the power over those bills. The recent aadhar bill is a good example in this regard.

1. Neither the constitution nor the house rules lay down the procedure with regard to certifying the money bill making speaker’s decision discretionary.

2. Rajya sabha can’t question the decision of the speaker even when they have a strong case for contesting speakers decision.

3. The decision of the speaker cannot be questioned.

Conclusion:

It is true that the sometimes the ruling parties use discretionary powers to overcome the legislative process which is not justified. this constitutional provision of giving authority to the speaker cannot be seen as a convenient tool to deal with an inconvenient second chamber. The Constitution reposes faith in the speaker’s fairness and objectivity. His decision needs to be in conformity with the constitutional provisions. If not, it is no decision under the Constitution. In order to reduce the discretion of the leader of the house, certain mechanisms can be developed such as:

• He can be made to resign from his membership of a particular party while taking seat as the leader of the house and can again join it when his term ends.

• A mechanism can be developed where the committee of the secretaries of both the houses examine in detail the given bill and submit their views to the speaker before speaker’s decision.

 

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