Aadhaar gets Parliament approval

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Wednesday, March 16, 2016
New Delhi

The Parliament has passed the controversial Aadhaar Bill 2016 after acrimonious debates in both the Houses on Wednesday.

The Opposition succeeded in pushing through five amendments to the Bill in the Rajya Sabha were rejected in Lok Sabha. The amendments are passed with a majority vote in favour.

  • Amendments moved by Jairam Ramesh:
  • Plug loopholes related to privacy
  • Block sale of database of individual
  • Prevent disclosure of demographic information in the interests of national security which defined ‘loosely’
  • Provide aggrieved individuals to approach courts directly rather than through the Unique *Identification Authority of India
  • Clarify that beneficiaries cannot be denied to those who do not have an Aadhaar number

Union Minister for Finance Arun Jaitely told the Lok Sabha that the legislation’s primary objective was delivery of benefits, subsidies and services to the people. He assured the House that any gaps in the law could be improved with the passage of time. The government’s contention is that the Aadhaar (Targeted Delivery of Financial and Other Subsidies, Benefits and Services) Bill 2016 would provide for good governance and efficient, transparent and targeted delivery of subsidies, benefits and services.

Amendments sought were pushed through by the Opposition in the Rajya Sabha and later rejected in Lok Sabha are:

  • To prevent disclosure of biometric or demographic information in the interests of national security which was seen as too sweeping. It was suggested that ‘National security’ be replaced with ‘public emergency’ or in the interests of ‘public safety’.
  • Permitting individuals with Aadhaar numbers to opt out of the system, with the Central Identities Data Repository deleting all information and authentication records and giving a certificate to that effect with 15 days.
  • An alternative deification for delivery of services, subsidies and benefits to those choosing not to enroll for an Aadhaar number.
  • Inclusion of the Central Vigilance Commissioner of the Comptroller and Auditor-General in the Oversight Committee.
  • The fifth amendment sought the deletion of a clause that allows Aadhaar number to be used for purposes other than those provided in the Bill.

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