Wednesday, Oct 01, 2014

Aadhaar didn’t fit the bill

It’s wrong to equate the views of the committee with the views of the party to which the chairman belonged. In the standing committee, it was the UPA that was in a majority. It’s wrong to equate the views of the committee with the views of the party to which the chairman belonged. In the standing committee, it was the UPA that was in a majority.
Written by Surjit S Bhalla | Posted: July 8, 2014 12:05 am | Updated: July 10, 2014 1:46 pm

In your editorial on July 7 (‘A stronger Aadhaar’, IE) you have stated that “The BJP is complicit in Aadhaar’s uncertain legal status — the UPA was forced to rely on executive orders because the UIDAI bill was held up by the Yashwant Sinha-headed standing committee on finance.” The impression your editorial seeks to convey is entirely erroneous. It is wrong on your part to equate the views of the committee with the views of the party to which the chairman of the committee belonged.

A standing committee of Parliament is a multiparty committee consisting of 20 members of Lok Sabha and 10 members of Rajya Sabha, apart from the chairman, in which the majority in Parliament is fully reflected. So, in the standing committee on finance, it was the UPA that was in a majority, and not the BJP. The committee on finance is serviced by the Lok Sabha secretariat, which prepares draft reports that are then put up to the chairman and, after his approval, before the committee for discussion and adoption. The same procedure was followed while adopting this report also. Four notes of dissent were submitted, which were duly incorporated in the final report before it was presented to Parliament.

The final paragraph of the report states: “In view of the aforementioned concerns and apprehensions about the UID scheme, particularly considering the contradictions and ambiguities within the government on its implementation as well as implications, the committee categorically convey their unacceptability of the National Identification Authority of India Bill, 2010, in its present form. The committee would thus urge the government to reconsider and review the UID scheme, as also the proposals contained in the bill in all its ramifications and bring forth a fresh legislation before Parliament”. The report was presented to Parliament on December 11, 2011. The government never came back to Parliament with a new bill.

The reports of parliamentary standing committees are recommendatory in nature. The government of the day may accept them in toto or partially, or even reject them in toto for good reason. What it should not do is sit on the recommendations forever. Then, the fault lies with the government and not with the committee or the committee system.

The concept of a unique identification scheme was first discussed in 2006 and administrative approval for the scheme “Unique ID for BPL Families” was given on March 3, 2006, by the department of IT. On December 4, 2006, an EGoM was set up to coordinate work between the registrar general, engaged in the preparation of the National Population continued…

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