New Delhi: The Supreme Court will examine the plea by Congress leader Jairam Ramesh challenging the propriety of the government introducing the Aadhaar Act as a money bill, even as Attorney General Mukul Rohatgi said that the Lok Sabha speaker’s decision to this effect could not be questioned.
But countering him, senior counsel P Chidambram told Chief Justice TS Thakur, Justice R Banumathi and Justice Uday Umesh Lalit that the position taken by Rohatgi may be valid if it pertains to irregularity but not in face of an illegality.
Questioning as to how Ramesh, a Rajya Sabha member, could question the speaker’s decision by filing a PIL invoking the constitution’s article 32 providing remedies for enforcement of fundamental rights, Rohatgi told the court that bill (which later became an act) was certified by the speaker as a money bill and thus was immune to challenge under this provision.
Chidambram however told the court that it was rule of law that has been breached by allowing the introduction and passing of Aadhaar (Targeted Delivery of Financial and other Subsidies, Benefits and Services) Act, 2016, as a money bill, thereby depriving the Rajya Sabha to vote.
He said that the rule of law was part of the basic structure of the constitution and Ramesh can move the court invoking article 32.
“What more gross violation of rule of law can be that Rajya Sabha has been denied a say on the bill,” Chidambaram told the bench, adding that “one house of the parliament can’t be deprived of a say on the bill and the issue issue has to be decided by the highest court”.
Asking both the sides to file their written notes on the issue, the court adjourned the hearing till the second week of July.
After being passed by Lok Sabha, the Aadhaar Bill was sent to Rajya Sabha, which recommended some amendments. But the Lok Sabha did not accept them.
Ramesh has challenged the constitutional validity of the act, and termed its introduction as a “money bill” being nothing but a “brazen and malafide attempt to bypass the approval of the Rajya Sabha which holds an important place in the Constitutional and democratic framework of law-making”. The upper house has limited powers in case of a money bill, and cannot amend it but only make non-binding suggestions.
He contended that the act impacted fundamental rights of the citizens and residents under articles 14 and 21 and has dangerous implications for imposing restrictions on the rights guaranteed by the constitution.