RS amendments to Aadhaar Bill had lacunae: Jaitley
Justifying Lok Sabha’s rejecting the amendments made by the Upper House of the Indian Parliament to the Aadhaar Bill, Finance Minister Arun Jaitley on Friday said adoption of changes would have pushed the legislation, aimed at streamlining the payment of benefits, into realms of unconstitutionality.
Acceptance of the amendments would have led to much wider encroachment of the Right of Privacy and an auditor or an anti-corruption authority overseeing issues of national security, he said.
“These lacunae would have pushed the Aadhaar law to the realm of unconstitutionality. Obviously, the Lok Sabha did not agree with the above suggestions, and in my view, rightly so,” he said in a Facebook post.
The Lok Sabha on the last of the first half of Budget session on Wednesday waited for Rajya Sabha to decide on the Aadhaar (Targeted Delivery of Financial and Other Subsidies, Benefits and Services) Bill, 2016, and then swiftly rejected the amendments made to the legislation.
The amendments to be bill in Rajya Sabha, where the ruling National Democratic Alliance (NDA) does not have majority, were moved by Congress members including Jairam Ramesh. Jaitley said the legislation, aimed at better targeting of subsidies and benefits through use of unique identification number, contains stringent provisions both substantially and procedurally to protect privacy.
While National Security is the only ground on which a Competent Authority can share core bio-metric information contained in Aadhaar, amendments wanted the condition to be replaced with “vague” and “elastic” Public Emergency or in the interest of public safety.
“It is also not clear as to how Aadhaar information would have been used in dealing with situations of public emergency or public safety,” he said.
Jaitley said adoption of the amendment “would have provided a scope much wider for encroaching upon privacy than the words ‘National Security’ which existed in both the 2010 (law moved by the UPA) and 2016 law, and would have potentially become the grounds for constitutional challenge at a later date.”
World no longer ridicules India on ‘Hindu rate of growth’: FM
Pitching for more reforms, FM Arun Jaitley said the world no longer ridicules India of clocking ‘Hindu rate of growth’ and economic liberalisation has helped it grow at a faster pace.
The constituency that favours reforms today, he said, is much more than those who oppose it and the country can grow at a faster rate generating more resources to effectively fund anti-poverty schemes.
“Right till about 40 years of independence, India was growing at about paltry 2-2.5 per cent. The world was ridiculing us and the Indian economy, and its growth was referred to globally as the Hindu rate of growth. So, anybody who grew slowly and was satisfied with that growth level was sarcastically referred to as Hindu rate of growth,” Jaitley said at the Skoch event here.