Opposition parties in Rajya Sabha today slammed various provisions of the Aadhar bill, singling out the ones like making the Aadhar card mandatory as an identity proof besides voicing concern that national security could be made a ground for sharing of an individual’s details.
The House saw an animated discussion when the Aadhar Bill, passed by Lok Sabha, was moved for consideration and return, with opposition questioning in unison why it has been been brought has a ‘Money Bill’ (which deals with issues like taxation).
At this, Deputy Chairman P J Kurien said since the decision to declare it as ‘Money Bill’ had been taken by Lok Sabha Speaker, he could not do anything but ensure that it is returned to the Lower House (after passage).
Congress leader Jairam Ramesh supported the Aadhar Bill which is aimed at giving statutory backing to the unique identity number scheme, but proposed amendments including a “fundamental departure” against the provision making its use mandatory rather than voluntary.
The former minister argued that every individual should have the freedom to opt out of Aadhar and said the present Bill does not give that space.
Informing that he himself does not have an Aadhar card, Ramesh said a situation may arise when it may be needed even to book a flight or get a phone number.
He also opposed another provision in the Bill which he termed as “broad” and “amorphous” and could become the ground for misuse of the law as it gives “sweeping powers” on the grounds of national security.
He suggested that rather than national security, the terms “public emergency” or “public safety” could be used. He suggested that an independent member like the CVC should be included in the panel that decides which information regarding a person can be shared.
Ramesh said any suo motu powers, “even to collect information” should not be given to the Aadhar authority, for instance it could even direct collection of DNA.
He said there were concerns of privacy and the amendments moved by him were in line with the recommendation suggested by a Commission headed by Justice (retd) A P Shah, which had been set by the Planning Commission to examine the matter.
While Ramesh suggested these amandments, he also expressed “anguish” that the Bill had been brought as a Money Bill, an act he likened to “knocking a nail in the coffin of the Upper House”.