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Aadhaar as a Money Bill

Breaking parliamentary rules to legislate Aadhaar is a dangerous move.

In a belated move to confer legitimacy on the Aadhaar programme, carried out till now without any legislative provision, the ruling National Democratic Alliance (NDA) introduced the Aadhaar (Targeted Delivery of Financial and Other Subsidies, Benefits and Services) Bill, 2016. Questions and concerns on its contents apart, the fact that the government chose to define it as a money bill and thus ensure its passage as a law by only having to secure majority support in the lower house raises concerns that matter to the constitutional scheme. That successive regimes went about issuing unique identification (UID) numbers all these years—and claim that about 95% of the adult population have already been covered—raises questions of whether we remain a constitutional democracy.

Such a statement may sound extreme. But given the impunity with which union governments have gone about this massive project without parliamentary approval, what else can one infer but that of brazen disregard for constitutional mores. Furthermore, in this instance, the Lok Sabha speaker’s decision, exercising powers under Article 110(3) of the Constitution to allow its introduction as a money bill is indeed faulty.

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