NEW DELHI: The Lok Sabha today passed the Aadhaar Bill, providing statutory backing to the unique identification number for transferring government subsidies and benefits, as a money bill after government overruled opposition objections.
Finance Minister Arun Jaitley said thousands of crores of rupees would be saved by plugging leakages and diversions as he rejected opposition demand for referring the Bill to a standing committee and their concerns of privacy as well as Aadhaar potentially being used for "mass surveillance" and "ethnic cleansing".
Overruling Congress' objections that the legislation has been turned into a money bill to avoid voting in the Rajya Sabha where the government does not have a majority, he said Aadhaar was a money bill in true definition.
The Bill "will empower the states to distribute resources of the State to deserving people and save the resources that undeserving people get," the Minister said while replying to short debate on the Aadhaar (Target Delivery of Financial and Other Subsidies, Benefits and Services) Bill, 2016'.
"The effect is going to be on the Centre and state governments which will save thousands of crore," Jaitley said just before the measure was adopted by a voice vote.
Justifying bringing Aadhaar as a money bill, he said any measure which leads to money going into the Consolidated Fund of India and coming out of it, qualifies as money bill.
There are certain procedures which are followed for a money Bill, he said.
Earlier participating in the debate, BJD's Tathagat Satpathy said there are fears that a government of the day may use the provisions of the bill for "mass surveillance" and "ethnic cleansing".
When a BJP member countered him saying there are no different races in the country, Satpathy said there are at least four groups in the country and Indians can be divided on these lines.
He claimed that the United Nations had recently "misutilised" biometric data of refugees coming from Iraq and Syria to help certain countries keep a tab on them.
"More dangerous is collection of biological data," he said opposing the Bill.