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Parliament passes Aadhaar Bill


Parliament has passed The Aadhaar (Targeted Delivery of Financial and Other Subsidies, Benefits and Services) Bill, 2016 with the Lok Sabha rejecting all five amendments made by the Rajya Sabha. The Bill was certified a money bill by the Speaker and passed in the Lok Sabha. The Bill will provide for ""good governance, efficient, transparent, and targeted delivery of subsidies, benefits and services"", the expenditure of which is incurred from the Consolidated Fund of India to individuals residing in India through assigning of unique identity numbers to such individuals. The bill seeks to make the use of aadhaar mandatory for availing government subsidies but at the same time tries to address concerns regarding privacy and protection of personal information.

Violation of privacy and protection of biometric data has been one of the main criticism of the Adhaar programme. The proposed legislation will also address the uncertainty surrounding the project after the Supreme Court restricted the use of the Aadhaar number until a constitution bench delivers its verdict on a number of case challenging the mandatory use of Aadhaar in government schemes systems and rules on the issue of privacy violation. In the absence of a credible system to authenticate identity of beneficiaries, it is difficult to ensure that the subsidies, benefits and services reach to the intended beneficiaries, the bill says while seeking to address many provisions related to privacy and security of the biometric information provided.

Earlier, the Rajya Sabha had returned it to the Lok Sabha with five amendments. The amendments were moved by the Congress and included the one to make Aadhaar voluntary and barring its use for purposes other than subsidies. Trinamool Congress, BSP and BJD had walked out of the House in protest. The Opposition had also demanded that the Bill be referred to the Select Committee of Rajya Sabha. Finance Minister Arun Jaitely explained that since money is being spent from consolidated fund for providing subsidies, it makes it a money bill. He claimed, the present bill is an improvement over the one drafted by UPA government in 2010 and have strict provisions to protect individual privacy. The only ground on which personal information can be shared with any authority is national security."

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