New Delhi: The Rajya Sabha on Monday passed Aadhaar and Other Laws Amendment Bill, 2019, which was introduced in Lok Sabha by the Minister of Electronics and Information Technology and Law, Ravi Shankar Prasad. The new bill replaces an Ordinance promulgated on March 2, 2019. (Also read: Aadhaar Can Now be Used For Transactions Above Rs 50,000)
Speaking during the debate, Prasad had a few curt words for the apex court judges. He said they should avoid “harsh words” even as he referred to observations like “constitutional fraud” in the minority judgement in the landmark Aadhaar verdict. Replying to a debate on a bill to amend the law to allow voluntary use of Aadhaar as ID proof for opening bank accounts and obtaining mobile phone connections, Prasad asserted the government respects apex court judges.
“It is a remarkable minority judgment… in all humility, I want to say this in the House today. We respect Supreme Court judges but use of words such as constitutional fraud should not happen,” Prasad said.
While he did not name the judge, he was replying to Congress leader Jairam Ramesh citing a 500-page judgement by Justice D Y Chandrachud on the passage of the Aadhaar Bill as a money bill in Parliament under the BJP-led government’s first term. Ramesh had quoted the judge to say that the Act “constitutes a fraud on the Constitution.”
“Passing of a Bill as a Money Bill, when it does not qualify for it, damages balance of bicameralism which is part of the basic structure of the Constitution,” Ramesh had quoted the judge as saying.
The Supreme Court had upheld passing of the Aadhaar Bill as Money Bill.
Under the Aadhaar Act, the identity of an individual may be verified by Aadhaar ‘authentication’, which involves submitting the Aadhaar number, and their biometric or demographic information to the Central Identities Data Repository for verification. The Bill additionally allows ‘offline verification’ of the identity of an individual without authentication through modes specified by the Unique Identification Authority of India (UIDAI). During offline verification, the agency has to get an individual’s consent and also inform him of alternatives to sharing information.
The Act provides for the use of Aadhaar number as proof of identity of a person, subject to authentication but the new Bill replaces this provision and allows the individual to voluntarily use his Aadhaar number to establish his identity, by authentication or offline verification.