The Lok Sabha, the Lower House of Indian Parliament, passed Friday the Aadhaar (Delivery of Benefits, Subsidies and Services) Bill, 2016. The legislation gives legal backing to the 12-digit unique identity number (Aadhaar) of resident Indians to avail benefits under several government schemes, contradicting a Supreme Court order of October 2015 that made the use of the Aadhaar card voluntary, and not mandatory.
The legislation was passed as a money bill by the government in the Lok Sabha so that the Rajya Sabha (the Upper House) -- wherein the government does not have a majority -- can't veto it.
Any bill passed as a money bill by the Lok Sabha can only be discussed in the Rajya Sabha, however, it cannot be amended or rejected by the Upper House, NDTV reported.
The Aadhaar Bill was introduced by the government on March 3.
The Bill was moved in tandem with a motion to withdraw the National Identification Authority of India (NIDAI) Bill introduced by the former UPA government in 2010 to give legislative support to the Unique Identification Authority of India (UIDAI), which is the central authority mandated to issue the 12-digit unique identification (UID) number, or Aadhaar, to resident Indians, thewire.in reported.
The NIDAI Bill was withdrawn following a standing committee on finance headed by BJP leader Yashwant Sinha considering the legislation "unacceptable," the website added.
Justifying introducing it as a money bill, Finance Minister Arun Jaitley said: "The prinicipal purpose is spending the money" for beneficiaries and not as a mere identification document, reported NDTV.
The Bill could face legal hurdle as a five-judge bench of the Supreme Court is hearing a petition that alleges the 12-digit number may be in violation of right to privacy, the Hindu reported.