New Delhi: Accusing the BJP-led NDA government of showing "utter contempt" of Rajya Sabha for taking the money bill route to pass the Aadhar bill, the Congress on Friday indicated that the matter could be challenged by "others" in the courts.
"This is a very dangerous trend. The government has taken this to bypass the Rajya Sabha. This is an assault on the Rajya Sabha. The Rajya Sabha and the Lok Sabha are two equal wheels of the same chariot of Indian democracy, if one of the wheels does not run, it will hamper democracy," Congress spokesperson Jairam Ramesh said.
Insisting that a series of conditions are specified in Article 110 and that Article 110 uses the word "only" if those conditions are prevalent can a bill be declared a Money Bill, Ramesh said that the Aadhaar Bill, which was passed as a money bill "ignored five recommendations made by the Rajya Sabha" and had many other provisions.
"It had many other provisions and most constitutional experts have given the view that the Aadhaar Bill is not a Money Bill. While the prerogative of declaring a bill as a Money Bill or not is that of the Speaker and the Speaker's decision is final but the recommendation to the Speaker to consider making it a Money Bill is that of the government.
"It is the government that decides whether it is a Money Bill or not and the Speaker only certifies it as Money Bill," Ramesh said.
"The two examples that the finance minister gave, that they were declared Money Bills in the past, were wrong. They were not Money Bills. The Juvenile Justice Bill of 1986 and the African Development Bank Bill of 1983 which the Finance Minister used to justify the Aadhaar Bill being the Money Bill, turned down to be completely erroneous and false," he said.
To repeated questions on whether Congress will challenge the passage of Aadhar bill as Money bill in Supreme Court, Ramesh evaded a direct reply saying "we have not heard the last on the Money Bill issue. I don't think that you have heard the last on the Money Bill debate. The Money Bill debate will continue."
He said there is a petition already before a five judge bench of the Supreme Court which has not yet given its final verdict.
"So, I am sure, there will be others who will take this issue but as far as we are concerned, we go by the Article 110. The Speaker's decision is final. The Speaker has declared it is a Money Bill, it came as Money Bill, it was discussed as Money Bill, it was recommended as a Money Bill and finally passed as Money Bill and we cannot undo the history."
Asked whether there is a clash between the Speaker's view on Aadhar bill being a money bill and that of the Congress, Ramesh merely said, "we still believe and we have adequate grounds to believe that it is not a Money Bill but the chapter, as far as we are concerned, is a closed chapter. But it is not a closed chapter in a democracy. There are substantive provisions which are completely a separate issue."
Ramesh insisted that the issue is not only about Aadhar but in the larger context of Money Bills.
"This is in larger context of the assault on the Rajya Sabha," he said.
The former minister said that that purpose of this government is clear they want to "totally neglect" Rajya Sabha in legislative business.
Claiming that whenever any bill goes through a Standing Committee or Select Committee, it comes out as a better version, which was seen also in the case of real estate bill.
"Now, Standing Committee is far away, even the possibility of sending a bill to Select Committee is here with the introduction of this Money Bill trend. Congress strongly opposes this strategy
Ramesh also found it "astonishing" that the government was "bypassing" Rajya Sabha even as a number of its senior ministers including Leader of House and Finance Minister Arun Jaitley and former Defence Minister AK Antony are members of the same House.
"Health Minister JP Nadda, Communication Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad, Petroleum Minister Dharmendra Pradhan, Power Minister Piyush Goyal, Environment Minister Prakash Javadekar, Human Resource Development Minister Smriti Irani and Commerce Minister Nirmala Sitharaman are all members of the Rajya Sabha.
"So, without the Rajya Sabha, these people would not be in the Parliament, they would not be ministers. I think what the government has shown is utter contempt and utter disregard for Rajya Sabha which derives its powers from the Constitution of India even as it celebrates the anniversary of the architect of the Indian constitution BR Ambedkar," he said.