New Delhi: Attorney General K.K. Venugopal told the Supreme Court on Thursday that the Aadhaar Act was “in pith and substance" a money bill.
Defending the introduction of the Aadhaar Act as a money bill, he said, “Even though the Act has ancillary provisions, its main objective is the delivery of benefits and services flowing out of the consolidated fund."
He submitted before a Constitution bench that not a single provision in the Act was unrelated to the main purpose of the Act which was giving subsidies and benefits.
In April 2016, senior Congress leader Jairam Ramesh challenged Aadhaar (Targeted Delivery of Financial and Other Subsidies, Benefits and Services) Act, claiming it to be “unconstitutional" as it was incorrectly introduced as a money bill. This plea is being heard with other challenges against the Aadhaar scheme that the top court is currently hearing.
The Bill was discussed and passed by the Lok Sabha on 11 March last year. It was taken up in the Rajya Sabha on 16 March, where several amendments were made to it. It was returned the same evening to the Lok Sabha, which rejected all the amendments adopted by the Upper House and passed it without any of these changes.
On 10 April, Unique Identification Authority of India (UIDAI) told the top court that Aadhaar would help prevent duplication of PAN cards by linking databases.
Curbing terrorism, money laundering, black money and delivery of subsidies and benefits have been listed by the Centre as “legitimate state interests" in rolling out Aadhaar.
It has also been reiterated that the agency was in line with the court’s ruling holding privacy to be a fundamental right under the Constitution and that data collected under it was safe and secure.
The case will continue to be heard on Thursday and the attorney general is likely to conclude his arguments.