Lok Sabha passes Aadhaar bill in original form

NEW DELHI (TIP): Aadhaar is set to receive statutory backing after Parliament passed a bill that will make the unique identification project the central plank for delivering government subsidies and welfare benefits.

Only the President’s signature is now required for the bill to become law, which will enable the government to reset the subsidy regime and deliver state benefits directly to their intended beneficiaries, plugging leakages.

The money will go into the bank or post-office accounts of beneficiaries linked to the 12-digit biometric identity number provided by the Unique Identification Authority of India (UIDAI).

Late on Wednesday evening, the Lok Sabha rejected five amendments proposed by the Rajya Sabha earlier in the day and passed the bill in its original form.

The lower House passed the Aadhaar (Targeted Delivery of Financial and Other Subsidies, Benefits and Services) bill, 2016, as a money bill on Friday.

A money bill cannot be rejected by the Rajya Sabha, which can only suggest changes the Lok Sabha is free to reject. The ruling National Democratic Alliance is vastly outnumbered by the opposition in the upper House.

The opposition has voiced concerns that the privacy of individuals may be compromised by Aadhaar and that a provision that allows the government to access the biometric information in cases pertaining to national security may be misused.

The amendments to the bill moved by Congress MP Jairam Ramesh sought to replace the term ‘national security’ with ‘public emergency and public safety’ and limit the use of Aadhaar to delivery of subsidies. He also suggested that the use of Aadhaar be made optional so that subsidies can be accessed even without the unique identity number.