The Centre on Monday opposed senior Congress leader Jairam Ramesh’s plea challenging the Lok Sabha Speaker’s decision to certify the Aadhar Bill as a money bill and said the decision of the Speaker could not be called into question before any court.
Telling senior counsel P. Chidambaram that tentatively they were not with the petitioner questioning the validity of the Speakers’ decision, the bench of Chief Justice Jagdish Singh Khehar and Justice N.V. Ramana asked if the Rajya Sabha thought it was not a money bill then why did it propose amendments to it.
Defending the Speaker’s decision to certify the Aadhaar (Targeted Delivery of Financial & Other Subsidies, Benefits & Services) Bill, 2016, as a money bill, Attorney General Mukul Rohatgi referred to the provision of the Constitution’s Article 110 which gives the definition of money bill.
The AG told the court that all the money required for social welfare schemes that are linked to Aadhar would be withdrawn from the consolidated fund of India. He also took the court through the preamble of the Aadhar Bill to buttress his point that the Speaker was right in certifying it as a money bill.
The Aadhaar (Targeted Delivery of Financial & Other Subsidies, Benefits & Services) Bill, 2016, was passed by the Lok Sabha on March 11, 2016, and it was taken up by the Rajya Sabha a week later. The Upper House had returned the bill with some proposed amendments, which were rejected by the Lok Sabha.
Defending the plea by Ramesh, senior counsel P. Chidambaram told the court that if the original bill was not a money bill then how could amendments to it be a money bill.
“When original bill was not a money bill, can an amendment be a money bill,” wondered Chidambaram.
Saying that the provisions of the Aadhar Bill have nothing to do with the provisions of Article 110 of the Constitution, Chidambaram told the court that “this way every bill will go as a money bill”.
In a retort, the Attorney General said, “Does he say that Speaker – a high constitutional authority – will allow every bill as a money bill.”
Telling the petitioner that it was not with it questioning the validity of the decision to allow Aadhar Bill as money bill, the bench adjourned the matter for four weeks as Chidambaran said that he would require an hour to argue his case.
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 has contended that the act impacted fundamental rights of citizens and residents under articles 14 and 21 and has dangerous implications for imposing restrictions on the rights guaranteed by the Constitution.