Lok Sabha passes Aadhar Bill

New Delhi : The Lok Sabha passed the Aadhaar (Targeted Delivery of Financial and Other Subsidies, Benefits and Services) Bill,2016.

During the debate several members urged that the bill be sent to a parliament standing committee for detailed legislative scrutiny.

While discussing the bill, members raised their concerns about allowing private agencies to use Aadhaar as a proof of identity for any purpose.

This provision will enable private entities such as, airline, telecom, insurance, real estate etc. companies, to require Aadhaar as a proof of identity for availing their services.

Members also pointed out that the penalty for unauthorized access to the central data base and tampering with such data stored in it has been brought down from Rs. one crore (as in the 2010 Bill) to Rs. ten lakh. You can find a comparison of the 2010 Aadhaar Bill and the 2016 Aadhaar Bill here.

As per the Bill, information collected under Aadhaar may be disclosed in the interest of national security, or on the orders of a court. Members during the debate questioned the definition of ‘national security’ that the bill does not include.

Members also questioned the UID authority’s exclusive power to make complaints and raised their concerns about a possible conflict of interest that may arise.

Under the Bill, the UID authority is responsible for the security and confidentiality of identity information and authentication records. There may be situations in which members or employees of the UID authority are responsible for a security breach.

The bill was introduced as a money bill. Once a money bill is passed by the Lok Sabha, the Rajya Sabha or Upper House can only discuss it and not make amendments. It also has to discuss the bill immediately as a money bill, if not discussed within 14 days of being tabled in the Rajya Sabha, it is “deemed passed”.

“Focus is primarily on the usage of money belonging to Consolidated Fund of India belonging to either the Centre or states,” Finance Minister Arun Jaitley said as Opposition demanded that the bill should be sent to a standing committee.

Jaitley explained why the government has sought to present the Bill as a Money Bill, saying it differs from the one brought by the Congress-led UPA as “the prinicipal purpose is spending the money” for beneficiaries and not as a mere identification document. He said 97 per cent adults in the country were now covered by Aadhaar and promised that the government would not allow its misuse.

Aadhaar (Targeted Delivery of Financial and Other Subsidies, Benefits and Services) Act, 2016 seeks to to provide for, as a 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.

The government has introduced the bill as a money bill, which by definition contain provisions for imposition and abolition of taxes, for appropriation of moneys out of the Consolidated Fund.

Such bills can only be introduced in Lok Sabha, and since the government lacks majority in Rajya Sabha, and hence this move by the government is widely seen as circumventing the Opposition.

Aadhar has been often criticised by people for its privacy issues, and the NDA government has taken precautions in the bill to avoid the breach. The bill states that information stored in the Central Identities Data Repository will be secured and protected against access, use or disclosure. (ANI)