High Drama in the Rajya Sabha

For the second time in eight days, Congress amended official business in Rajya Sabha by altering the Aadhaar bill, forcing the government to take the legislation to Lok Sabha to overturn the changes and ensure its passage. On a day of high drama, the government used the provisions of a `money bill' to override Rajya Sabha within hours of it passing five Congress-sponsored amendments to the Aadhaar bill by a 76-64 vote.
The margin could have been narrower still had more BJP MPs been present in the House as several regional parties, including Congress allies, did not vote on the bill.
After the amended Aadhaar bill was returned to Lok Sabha under the provisions of Article 109, the government used its overwhelming majority to reject the changes and pass the original bill as it was cleared by the Lower House last Friday . But the day saw an engrossing debate between finance minister Arun Jaitley and Congress leader Jairam Ramesh --the mover of the five amendments in Rajya Sabha. The amendments were over Aadhaar's provisions relating to making it mandatory to access benefits, privacy and national security clauses, concerns over mass surveillance and terming the legislation as a money bill. Ramesh said Congress supported the bill but did not want it to be made mandatory and said the exemption to sharing of data should be on the ground of public safety while Jaitley responded by saying the proposed change made the bill more porous, not less.
The bill's passage means that once it recieves presidential assent, the government will be able to extend the use of Aadhaar to a range of services beyond the five currently allowed by the Supreme Court. Barring an adverse order from the SC constitution bench that is to hear issues related to whether right to privacy is a fundamental right, the government can proceed with its Aadhaar-linked services.
Though Ramesh strongly disputed the government's contentions that susbidies would be better targetted through the JAM (Jan Dhan, Aadhaar, Mobile) trinity, NDA has made this platform central to its attempt to deliver benefits to the poor and in the process, improve its prospects for re-election in 2019.
Rajya Sabha returned the contentious bill to the lower House but not before adopting as many as five amendments.Most of the amendments dealt with provisions in the bill thought to be encroaching upon an individual's privacy and his her ability to opt out of the scheme.

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