Executive implemention of Aadhar Scheme
Circumventing Parliament is Undemocratic?
(Extract of the speech made by Justice Dr. M. Rama Jois, MP, in Rajya Sabha on 28th March 2012).
I am raising a point which goes to the very root of the matter relating to our Parliamentary democracy. I am talking about the Unique Identification Authority of India Bill, 2010. In the last Budget debate, I had said that the Unique Indentification Authority of India Bill is a very, very serious matter which proposes to give Aadhar Numbers to not only to 1.2 billions of Indian citizens, but also to illegal immigrants, and therefore, this is a serious matter. When the Bill is pending before the Parliament, by executive order, the scheme is being implemented and in the last Budget, an amount of Rs. 1900 crore was allotted. I objected to that and pointed out that when the Bill is pending, you should not exercise executive power and spend huge sums of money. There was no reply by the Finance Minister. Then, I raised a Special Mention on 15th March 2011. I would read the operative part of it. It says,
“Unless the Bill is considered by the Standing Committee and thereafter debated in both the Houses of Parliament and passed and becomes the law, the issue of Adhar numbers to the residents tantamounts to the circumventing of the Parliament by the Executive.”
Thereafter, I made my submissions to the Standing Committee. The Standing Committee observed,
“The Committee is constrained to point out that in the instant case, since the law making is underway with the Bill being pending, an executive action is as unethical and violative of Parliament’s prerogatives as promulgation of an ordinance while one of the Houses of Parliament being in session.” Then, the Committee stated in its report.
“The Committee regrets to observe that despite the presence of serious difference of opinion within the Government on the UID scheme as illustrated below, the scheme continues to be implemented in an overbearing manner without regard to legalities and other social consequences”.
If our Constitutional provision that the Executive is responsible to the Legislature has any meaning, then implementation of that Executive Order must have stopped. They take a stand that the Executive power is co-extensive with that of the Legislature. They are totally misinterpreting that. As this provision affects the fundamental right of privacy under Article 21 of the Constitution any law or regulation which affects the fundamental rights must be only by legislation and not by an Executive order. Particularly, when it is such a serious provision involving enormous expenditure, involving thousands of crores of rupees from the exchequer.
There are serious articles written about this move. Let me quote an extract:
“The Aadhar project, just as it failed in counterpart countries like the UK, stands on a platform of mirage. India needs a mass campaign to express this.” Another article in “Spade A spade” says “The Aadhar project is directionless, ill-conceived, raises several questions on its efficacy and delivery.” In spite of that, in the present Budget, the Finance Minister has not mentioned even the money. He says, ‘Enrolments into the Aadhar system have crossed 20 crores. The Aadhar numbers up-to-date have crossed 14 crores. I propose to allocate adequate funds to complete another 40 crore enrolments starting from April 1, 2012. How can an unidentified amount be stated in the Budget? There is a stand taken by the executive to show the untenable stand of Executive before the Standing Committee. It says, “If the Bill is not passed by any reason and if Parliament is of the view that the Authority should not function and express its will to that effect, the exercise would have to be discontinued.” After all, why are you not bringing the Bill before the Rajya Sabha? The apparent reason may be that if the House rejects it, then there would be trouble. The next sentence is very curious, “This contingency does not arise.” That means, the Parliament rejecting the Bill does not arise. That is the stand taken by the Government before the Select Committee. It is most unfortunate. We maintain that our Constitution is functioning properly and all that. Thousands of crores of rupees have been spent. The provisions like Aadhar have been tested and rejected in the UK, China, the US, and others. You are not having a public debate, not having a debate in Parliament; can you call this a democratic process?
My submission is, if Constitution has any meaning, then immediately stop spending on it. Already, thousands of crores of rupees have been spent. Suppose, the Bill is rejected, then what is going to happen? Are you going to surcharge anybody? It is a very serious matter, But, unfortunately, it is being done with impunity.
Particularly, I appeal to the Finance Minister to consider my point seriously. The Finance Minister is so experienced. The expression of the law in Article 21 of the Constitution does not mean Executive order. This must be taken into account and the Aadhar project must be stopped forthwith.?