Finance Minister Arun Jaitley heaved a sigh of relief after his much-touted Aadhar Bill was passed in Lok Sabha with the efforts of Narendra Modi on Wednesday. The bill is aimed at good governance and will ensure that subsidies, benefits and services will be ‘targeted’ to ‘intended’ beneficiaries.
Despite strong protests from the Opposition, the bill was passed in Lok Sabha and is now ready to face tough pressure in Rajya Sabha.
Let us take a look at what Aadhar Bill is all about:
What is Aadhar Bill?
All residents, who has lived in India for 182 days, will be assigned unique identity numbers, called Aadhaar numbers. To avail Aadhar, documents that needs to be submitted include (i) biometric (photograph, finger print, iris scan) and (ii) demographic (name, date of birth, address) information.
If a person does not have an Aadhaar number, the government will ask them to apply for it, else the person will get an alternative means of identification. However, one should remember that the number is not a proof of citizenship or domicile.
Authenticity of the number will be done by UID authority for which a request will be sent to the person to obtain the consent of individual.
No information, such as finger print, iris scan and other biological attributes, must be spilled by the UID authority.
Further, these details will be used only for Aadhaar enrolment and authentication, and for no other purpose.
As per Section 33 of the Bill there are two cases when information may be revealed:
In the interest of national security
On the order of a court
Punishments for violation
For leaking details- Imprisonment up to three years and minimum fine of Rs 10 lakh
For failing to comply with rules- Imprisonment up to one year or a fine up to Rs 10,000 or Rs 1 lakh
Why Bill was opposed in Parliament?
Many questioned why the bill was introduced as Money Bill
Opposition argued that a money Bill pertains to taxes and requires no approval from the Rajya Sabha.
This means once it is passed by Lok Sabha, it is considered approved.
Then a case in Supreme Court dealing with the implementation of the Aadhaar number which encroaches the privacy of a person is still pending.
Opposition wanted the term ‘national security’ as mentioned in Section 33 to be replaced by “public emergency and public safety”.
Some activists believe that legislation may be misused for “mass surveillance” as it does not address concerns over privacy.
Fourthly, does the bill make Aadhaar number mandatory for all the citizens.
Jaitley named it money Bill as it deals with subsidies and money that is flows out of the Consolidated Fund of India. He also said the phrase has been borrowed from the 2010 law, which was brought in by the UPA.
Why is the Bill important?
It is central to the ambitious financial inclusion programme of the Modi government.
The Bill will enable the government to set up a statutory authority for the Aadhaar card scheme.
The scheme will also help government weed out fake Jan Dhan accounts.