Jaitley argues why Aadhaar is money bill

Finance minister reiterates ‘pith and substance’ argument in Rajya Sabha

GN Bureau | March 16, 2016


#money bill   #supreme court   #law   #parliament   #arun jaitley   #UIDAI   #Aadhaar   #economy  
Finance minister Arun Jaitley in Rajya Sabha
Finance minister Arun Jaitley in Rajya Sabha

 The Rajya Sabha witnessed the kind of debate it has not seen at least in recent decades as it took up for consideration the Aadhaar bill on Wednesday. Essentially, the opposition in the upper house was uncomfortable with the classification of the bill as a ‘money bill’ on which it will have no say.

 
That is why Sitaram Yechury of CPM repeatedly asked the chair if the bill was “introduced” in the house or “moved”, and deputy chairman PJ Kurien had to clarify that being a money bill, it was merely “transmitted” from the lower house.
 
 
The opposition asked finance minister Arun Jaitley to explain on what grounds it was termed a “money bill”. In reply, Jaitley went on to make a pitch for the bill – presenting salient points, giving full credit to the previous UPA regime for the conception of Aadhaar – but when pressed to clarify the classification, he repeated the argument he had made a fortnight ago in the lower house.
 
Jaitley maintained that in “pith and substance” the bill was about subsidies, hence related to the consolidated fund of India, and thus fully satisfying the criteria for a money bill laid down in Article 110 of the constitution. “Government money is spent on subsidies. You insist on the identity of the person (beneficiary) and this law is about how to identify that person.”
 
The constitution, however, uses the term ‘only’ – the bill has to be only and exclusively about the consolidated fund. Replying to that argument from the opposition, the finance minister cited the first Lok Sabha speaker, Ganesh Vasudev Mavalankar, who (Jaitley said) had ruled very clearly that the only law that would satisfy that criterion would be a single section law. In other words, Jaitley argued that any bill solely related to the matters concerning the consolidated fund of India would also have administrative machinery in it and that does not disqualify it as a money bill.
 
Jaitley compared the old UPA bill – about giving the legal backing to the UIDAI set up by an executive order – and the new Aadhaar bill. His argument was that the former was primarily about setting up an authority, and hence not a money bill per se, whereas the latter was essentially about plugging subsidy leakage and hence a money bill – even if it also has other provisions about privacy and other matters related to the process of saving subsidy.
 
He also added that going by the constitutional criteria it is the Lok Sabha speaker’s decision to call a legislation ‘money bill’ and “no authority of this land can challenge it”.
 

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