New Delhi: The Lok Sabha on Friday passed the Aadhaar (Targeted Delivery of Financial and Other Subsidies, Benefits and Services) bill, 2016 as a money bill.
The bill seeks to make the use of the Aadhaar number mandatory for availing government subsidies, and addresses concerns regarding privacy and protection of personal information.
The government is hopeful that making the Aadhaar number mandatory will help plug leakages and bring down its subsidy bill, which has been budgeted at Rs.2.5 trillion in 2016-17. It will also help push India towards a cashless economy.
The bill is in response to the uncertainty surrounding Aadhaar after the Supreme Court restricted its use to only a few government schemes till a constitution bench rules on a bunch of petitions that objected to Aadhaar on the grounds of privacy.
The money bill tag ensures its passage is not stalled by the Rajya Sabha, where the ruling National Democratic Alliance (NDA) is short of a majority.
A timeline of the key milestones on the Aadhaar road:
2006: The ministry of communications and information technology approves the ‘Unique ID for Below Poverty Line (BPL) families’ project under the chairmanship of Arvind Virmani, then principal adviser, Planning Commission.
2008: Empowered group of ministers formed by former Prime Minister Manmohan Singh decides to collate two schemes—the National Population Register under the Citizenship Act, 1955 and the UID project—to conceive Aadhaar.
2009: Planning Commission issues a notification to constitute the Unique Identification Authority of India (UIDAI).
2009: Government appoints Infosys co-founder Nandan M. Nilekani as the first chairman of the Unique Identification Authority of India, with the rank and status of a cabinet minister.
2012: Former Karnataka high court judge justice K. Puttaswamy files a public interest litigation before the Supreme Court (SC) seeking to restrain the centre, the erstwhile Planning Commission and UIDAI from issuing Aadhaar cards. The petitioner says Aadhaar violates an individual’s right to privacy and that the scheme lacks legislative backing.
2014: In an interim order, the SC restrains the UIDAI from transferring biometric information with an Aadhaar number to any other agency without the individual’s consent in writing.
2015: Three-judge bench of Supreme Court rules the unique identity number is not mandatory to avail of benefits from government programmes, restricting the use of Aadhaar unique identity numbers to beneficiaries of the public distribution system and subsidies on cooking gas and kerosene, refers the question on privacy to a larger constitution bench.
Centre moves SC seeking a review and modification of the 11 August interim order.
A five-judge constitution bench of the SC modifies the 11 August order and extends the use of Aadhaar to Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme, Jan Dhan Yojana, pensions and the Employees’ Provident Fund scheme.
2016: Arun Jaitley announces in the Union budget speech that the government will offer statutory backing for Aadhaar.
Government tables Aadhaar bill as a money bill in the Lok Sabha. The Aadhaar (Targeted Delivery of Financial and Other Subsidies, Benefits and Services) Bill seeks to make the use of Aadhaar mandatory for availing of government subsidies.
Lok Sabha passes bill on Friday, 11 March.