In an unprecedented move, the Lok Sabha passed the Aadhar Card Bill without implementing changes recommended by the Rajya Sabha.
Termed as the Money Bill, it gives the government legal power, a centralised identity for all Indians. The passing of the Aadhar Card Bill has raised various issues. This is a smart move of the government to introduced the proposed legislation as a money bill, which can be only introduced in Lok Sabha, or the lower house. The Rajya Sabha, or the upper house, can recommend changes to a money bill. However, these aren’t binding and if the lower house rejects the suggestion, the bill is automatically passed.
By treating Aadhaar as a money bill, the government has ensured that a hostile Opposition cannot defeat the bill in Rajya Sabha.
Protests have erupted over the Aadhar Card Bill, specifically over 3 concerns:
- How justified is the move to introduce legislation on Aadhaar in the form of a Money Bill? Is this a ploy by the government to bypass the Upper House where it lacks a majority?
- Does the bill address concerns over privacy?
- Does the bill enable the government to make Aadhaar mandatory, overriding an order of the Supreme Court?
The pioneer of Aadhar Card system, Nandan Nilekani, recently commented that the paperless and cashless nature of the Aadhar Card worked but recently, they are its major problems.
Aadhar Card Bill Privacy Concerns
With the Aadhar Card Bill passing, citizens won’t have any say in how their personal data is collected and used. An eminent jurist Usha Ramanathan commented that the purpose of the Aadhar Card was to identify people and not to turn into an “identity project”.
Once the Aadhar Card Bill schematics are in place, the government will use photographs, fingerprint, and iris scan to identify people. The method of data collection by the government is also under scanner.
Anti-Aadhar activists have warned that the worst is yet to come. A press conference in Delhi was held to give their concerns voice and look for solutions.
Moreover, since the government also mandates mobile registrations, it will lead to government and third-party (private company) surveillance issues. There are additional concerns about the nature of data protection.
The complete biometrics of 100+ million Indian citizens will make surveillance powers more intrusive that the National Security Agency (NSA) in the US.
All the data will be stored in data centres based in India and the security setups of these centres is an additional but excessively essential concern.
The Aadhar Card Bill is poised to face a challenge in the Supreme Court.