Did Lok Sabha affront Rajya Sabha while passing Aadhaar Bill?
Did Lok Sabha affront Rajya Sabha while passing Aadhaar Bill?Introduction:
Rajya Sabha witnessed heated debates by opposition members regarding the passage of Aadhaar Bill. They were finally able to make a list of recommendations for the bill but Lok Sabha ignored all the suggestions and passed the bill exactly as decided by the government earlier.
This has utterly upset opposition members, especially Congress member Jairam Ramesh, who had debated that the bill could not be passed as money bill since it lacked conditions that are needed to be prevalent before declaring or passing a bill as money bill. Their five recommendations were straightaway ignored which is not going down easily with opposition.
Finance ministry justified the bill as money bill with examples from past instances when a bill was declared money bill in order to be passed with ease. However, these justifications have also been denied by opposition who call them false examples with wrong information.
1. Neglecting Rajya Sabha: The main reason behind the uproar was not the bill itself but the way in which Lok Sabha was hell bent on neglecting the suggestions of Rajya Sabha. There is a reason why both the houses co-exits and that should not have been forgotten by finance ministry when it took the rather rash decision to pass the bill without paying any heed to the recommendations of some senior members of Rajya Sabha. The bill could have waited and proceedings could have gone rather smooth after letting the controversy clear out and suggestions considered.
2. Return as money bill: The return of the Aadhaar Bill as money bill was only done to ensure that Rajya Sabha gets no hand in the procedure. Money bills can only be amended and passed by Lok Sabha hence Rajya Sabha doesn’t get any hearing in the matter. This was the prime reason why the bill was brought back as money bill, hence agitating RS members who were offended by the indifference meted out to them.
3. Shortcut: BJP was the one to oppose the Aadhaar bill right from the very beginning when Congress was the one advocating for the Bill to be passed. There have been name calling on the unique identification system to be fraudulent and anti-poor. Now they had a change of heart and by adding some more clarification to the bill, government decided to pass the bill at the earliest. The right procedure should have included sending the bill to the Standing Committee and the reports should have been thoroughly discussed, making necessary amendments wherever required. However, the government didn’t only declined the reference to the Standing Committee but also made sure that Rajya Sabha got no credit for the work.
4. All the fuss about money bill: It is clear that the Aadhaar Bill was simply introduced as money bill to avoid involvement of Rajya Sabha in its amendment. The Bill in question is not a money bill nevertheless. It does not contain “only provision” dealing with such matters as mentioned under Article 110 of the Constitution of India. Speaker was simply made to obey the government and he wrongly declared the Bill as money bill.
5. Misleading with false examples: Finance ministry was accused of bringing back the bill as money bill to which he raised examples of past two instances where some bills were introduced as money bills. They included the Juvenile Justice Bill and another one on African Development Bank. Both the examples are being clarified wrong and said to have been brought up only to mislead people and show that Lok Sabha has not offended Rajya Sabha which is clearly not true.
1. All’s well that ends well: The Aadhaar Bill is passed for good. It contains provisions that could help curtail malpractices and fraudulence that prevails in the process of distribution of subsidies and other government aid to people who rightfully deserve them. It should never have mattered in the first place that the bill was brought back as normal bill or money bill when the intentions were clearly for the benefits of the poor and the needy. It is a total waste of time when members are simply concerned about being offended at the drop of a pin from the other side of the arena.
2. Hypocrisy: It is worth a mention that the bill under question was originally conceived by the erstwhile UPA government. It was lying pending for long until the present government decided to pay some heed to it and see if anything worth a change could be done with it. It is to be noted that the NDA government’s Aadhaar Bill is far more better than the former version of the same bill which is the main reason why opposition started being insecure and simply to add its mark to the bill, added five worthless amendments that are being called absolutely unnecessary.
3. Doubtful facts: Finance ministry has clarified that his source of information on the previous two bills that were passed as money bills comes from Lok Sabha website itself. If the facts on the website are wrong, the fault goes entirely upon the handle of websites and not finance ministry.
4. Amendments: The provisions that the Rajya Sabha suggested for inclusion in the bill were related to ‘national security’, ‘public safety’, inclusion of CVC and CAG in the oversight committee and penal provisions to ensure privacy is not violated. However, as correctly put by Finance Ministry, these amendments could have wrong consequences as they are entrusting bigger power to government to share information at their convenience. The inclusion of terms like ‘public emergency’ could lead various interpretations later on.
While Aadhaar card and the provisions under the bill seem like good news to ensure that government aid actually reaches those who rightfully deserve it, it is also to be noted that there will always be some hampering at the initial process. What Rajya Sabha made was its own concern and suggestion. It was entirely up to Lok Sabha whether to consider it or not.
At the end what should matter is the result which could be all good with a few cautions and provisions regarding individual privacy. Lok Sabha did pass the bill as money bill for its own benefits of avoiding unnecessary hindrances at the Rajya Sabha where it clearly lacks majority. There should be no getting offended as long as the bill serves its main purpose.