The government on Friday passed the Aadhaar bill in Lok Sabha, despite vociferous protests from the opposition parties, who didn’t want it passed as a 'money bill'. However, with Finance Minister Arun Jaitley insisting that the focus of the bill was entirely on the usage of government money for targeted subsidies, the Lok Sabha took up discussions on the bill on Friday afternoon.
Jaitley overruled Congress’ objections that it had been turned into a money bill only to avoid voting on it in the Rajya Sabha where the government does not have a majority.
The government had introduced the bill in Lok Sabha on Thursday, and said it will provide a unique identity to residents and give legal teeth to the government in ensuring that its subsidies and services directly reach the beneficiaries in entirety.
The process had begun over six years ago, during the reign of the previous UPA government, which had introduced it in Parliament in December 2010.
Jaitley told the House that targeted subsidies of LPG consumers through Aadhaar cards had resulted in over Rs 15,000 crore of savings at the Centre. Four states, which had started PDS delivery by a similar exercise on a pilot basis, had saved more than Rs 2,300 crore. “The focus is primarily on the usage of money belonging to the Consolidated Fund of India belonging to either the Centre or states,” Jaitley said, refuted Congress’s criticism for making it a money bill and said the measure is “distinctly different” from the one tabled by the UPA and “the earlier we implement it, it will be better”.
Wait, what are money bills?
Money Bills are those that contain provisions regarding taxation, borrowing of money by the government and expenditures or contributions to the Consolidated Fund of India. As per the Constitution, the Rajya Sabha cannot make amendments to a Money Bill once it’s passed by the Lok Sabha.
However, it may recommend amendments to the Money Bill and return it to the Lok Sabha within 14 days from the date of receipt. The Lok Sabha is then free to accept or reject these recommendations. If accepted, the bill is said to be passed by both Houses of Parliament.
If the Lok Sabha chooses to not accept the recommendations suggested by the Rajya Sabha, it would be deemed to have been passed in the form it was originally passed. The bill would meet with the same fate if the Rajya Sabha fails to return it within 14 days. Once a money bill has been passed by both houses of Parliament, it goes to the President for his signature.
(With agency inputs)