The Rajya Sabha on Wednesday returned the Aadhaar bill to the Lower House with four amendments, including ensuring that it remains voluntary.
The amendments are in clauses 3, 7, 33 and 57 of the Aadhaar (Targeted Delivery of Financial and Other Subsidies, Benefits and Services) Bill, 2016.
The Rajya Sabha had a limited role in passage of a money bill, as the Aadhaar bill has been designated, and can only suggest amendments, which can be accepted or rejected by Lok Sabha.
In case amendments are recommended, the bill will remain pending unless the process is completed in Lok Sabha.
The bill now has to go the Lok Sabha again, where the amendments would be either accepted or defeated.
Moving the bill in the Rajya Sabha, finance minister Arun Jaitley responded to the objections raised by the opposition members at it being designated a money bill, saying that the Lok Sabha speaker’s decision to do so cannot be questioned.
The Congress and other Opposition parties made a strong pitch against the overall nature of the bill.
As the Aadhaar (Targeted Delivery of Financial and Other Subsidies, Benefits and Services) Bill, 2016 was transmitted for discussion in the Upper House, members across party lines expressed their reservation on presenting it as a money bill.
“We are not against the Aadhaar Bill, but it should only be used for identity purpose and not for anything else, said Congress’ Jairam Ramesh.
“Aadhaar is a proof for identity. It does not entitles me for any subsidy. It only determines that you are you,” he said, adding that it must not be made mandatory.
The former union minister said that the “whole idea of Aadhaar was to remove duplicity” and cautioned the house that it was passed in its present form it would become mandatory and would create unnecessary problems.
Giving example, he said that as he himself does not have Aadhaar card since he does not require subsidy, but if he was to buy a mobile phone number or an airline ticket and the Aadhaar was mandatory, he would have to get it made.
“We want it to be limited to subsidies,” he said.
Ramesh also said that bill was not a money bill.
“I am happy that the government has brought the bill and I am here to support it but not without amendments.
Praful Patel of the Nationalist Congress Party also expressed similar apprehension about the bill saying India being a huge country, any identity card cannot be made mandatory as issuing them in a proper manner has always been a challenge.
He cited example of the election identity card, saying that the Election Commission of India and the Supreme Court had to announce that people who did not have it could also vote in elections by proving their identity by using any other mean they could have at that point of time.