Show Me The Money

In spite of attempts to dress it as one, Aadhaar bill is not a money bill.

Written by P D T Achary | Published:March 12, 2016 12:01 am
aadhaar, Aadhaar card, aadhaar card benefits, Supreme Court aadhaar card, aadhaar card PDS, Aadhaar card LPG, Aadhaar card application, India news In all democratic parliaments, as in India, the Lower House alone has the power to grant money to the executive. A bill that deals with such matters is called a money bill.

The issue of bills being categorised as money bills in an attempt to circumvent the Rajya Sabha has once again become live. On Friday, the Lok Sabha passed the Aadhaar (Targeted Delivery of Financial and Other Subsidies, Benefits and Services) Bill, 2016, which Finance Minister Arun Jaitley asserted was a money bill. But is it actually a money bill?

In all democratic parliaments, as in India, the Lower House alone has the power to grant money to the executive. A bill that deals with such matters is called a money bill. A money bill cannot be passed or rejected by the Rajya Sabha, which can keep such a bill for only 14 days, after which it will be deemed to have been passed by both Houses.

As per Article 110(1), a bill that contains only provisions dealing with the following qualifies as a money bill: One, the imposition, abolition, remission, alteration or regulation of any tax; two, regulation of borrowing or the giving of any guarantee by the government of India, or undertaking financial obligation by the government; three, the custody of the Consolidated Fund of India (CFI) or the Contingency Fund of India, the payment of moneys into or withdrawal from them; four, the appropriation of moneys out of the CFI; five, declaring any expenditure as a charged expenditure on the CFI; six, the receipt of money on account of the CFI or the public account of India or the ambit of accounts of the Union or of a state; seven, any matter incidental to the above issues.

Let’s examine the Aadhaar bill in the light of the above definition. The bill does not deal with imposition, abolition, alteration, etc, of tax; nor does it deal with the regulation of borrowing or giving a guarantee by the government or an amendment in respect of any financial obligation to be undertaken by the government. This bill also does not deal with the custody of the CFI, etc. The moneys paid into or withdrawn from such funds are incidental. The bill is not an appropriation bill that appropriates money from the CFI. It does not deal with declaring any expenditure as a charge on that fund. Further, it does not deal with the receipt of money on account of the CFI or the public account, or the custody or issue of such money, or the audit of the accounts of the Union or states. It may also be noted that a bill becomes a money bill when it contains only provisions dealing with any of the above matters. If a bill contains any other matters, it is not a money bill.

The object of the Aadhaar bill is to create a right to obtain a unique identity number, regulate the enrolment process to collect demographic and biometric information, and create a statutory authority for regulating and supervising the process. It also specifies offences and penalties. The obvious purpose of the bill is to deal with all aspects relating to the unique identity number of Indian residents, which will be used for multiple purposes. Clause 4(3) states that the Aadhaar number may be accepted as proof for “any purpose”, not merely for the payment of subsidy or other monetary benefits.

The above analysis clearly shows that the Aadhaar bill is not a money bill. Subtle attempts have been made to give it the appearance of a money bill by referring to the CFI in certain clauses. But this does not alter the character of the bill, which does not deal with the CFI. Further, subsidies, subventions, etc, are not a part of this bill. If the government had introduced a bill exclusively dealing with these, it would have been a money bill. But the Aadhaar bill does not make any provision for subsidies or other government benefits or specify beneficiaries.

The Aadhaar bill comes under the category of financial bills under Article 117, which would inter alia involve expenditure from the CFI. The Constitution stipulates that such bills be considered only after the president has recommended their consideration. However, such bills can be introduced in either House and, as per Article 107(2), need to be passed by both Houses.

Article 110(3) confirms finality on the speaker’s decision on the question of whether a bill is a money bill. But this constitutional provision cannot be seen as a convenient tool to deal with an inconvenient second chamber. The Constitution reposes faith in the speaker’s fairness and objectivity. Article 110(1) provides the touchstone of the decision to be taken by the speaker under Article 110(3). Any decision actuated by extraneous considerations can’t be a proper decision under Article 110(3). The speaker’s decision needs to be in conformity with the constitutional provisions. If not, it is no decision under the Constitution.

The writer is a former secretary general of the Lok Sabha

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    Dulalkrishna Basu
    Mar 29, 2017 at 1:20 am
    It's not only Aadhaar, but the provisions for political funding without any ceiling and without any disclosures, cannot come under the definition of a Money Bill, because it is not concerned with taxation or govt spending. On this count also Finance Bill 2017 is bad in law.
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    1. J
      Jim
      Mar 12, 2016 at 7:52 pm
      If congress lacks smartness as you say then we were right to kick it out
      Reply
      1. J
        Jim
        Mar 12, 2016 at 7:50 pm
        Your argument is fkall congress did is valid argument as now opposition who support congress can't oppose and have to workout accept
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        1. M
          Madhav Aggarwal
          Mar 13, 2016 at 2:48 pm
          Sadly this debate has also been reduced to Opposition vs govt paradigm whereas it is much beyond that. The Bill is not a money bill, any one who has basic understanding if consution and has read Article 110 and 117 can identify that( you don't need to be FM or a great lawyer to certify that and also this question can't be taken to Court as per Judicial stance today). Its a matter of responsibility of govt in light of an irresponsible opposition in setting precents for the future. Also, it is a test of Speaker's impartiality which is a test of strength of our Parliament itself.
          Reply
          1. Y
            Yogesh
            Mar 12, 2016 at 6:26 am
            Good and smart move by Jaitley - this Bill has been languishing in parliament for 7 years. How long will Congress and looney lefties make Voters look like z
            Reply
            1. A
              abhinay
              Mar 13, 2016 at 9:08 pm
              Ultimately India needs to follow the British practice of a neutral speaker resigning on uming the office
              Reply
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                Bhushan Rane
                Mar 12, 2016 at 5:32 am
                Very poor attempt to discredit NDA from reaching to poor and again coming to power in 2019.
                Reply
                1. D
                  DA
                  Mar 12, 2016 at 9:30 pm
                  Yeah right, you know more about consutional law than Arun Jaitley? Why waste your time writing this? Why aren't you minting money in the Supreme Court the way Arun Jaitley did? Law is not common sense, law is what a lawyer can persuade the Supreme Court to interpret this as. Common sense is for everyday life. Law is for the courts. Let this be tested in courts, if it comes to that.
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                    KS KUMAR
                    Mar 12, 2016 at 10:41 am
                    Ask MPs of RS to conduct themselves as Elders and not cheap politicians.
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                      MS
                      Mar 14, 2016 at 2:01 am
                      It qualifies.
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                      1. P
                        pankaj
                        Mar 12, 2016 at 12:38 am
                        Can't believe congress is so upset even with good things..
                        Reply
                        1. P
                          pkpk
                          Mar 13, 2016 at 8:01 pm
                          BJP did not lose Delhi and Bihar elections because of lack of socialism? People in the street are not businessmen who will understand the benefits of bringing one party or the other in power? They behave strangely and unpredictably. They act with emotions. BJP had this historic opportunity to give new direction to this country but that opportunity has been squandered. What was needed was to go for painful hard decisions on economic, social and political reforms? Here are a few I can list if Modi has willingness and guts see India as a economic super power in next 20 years: 1. Reverse socialism with free enterprise (remove state from every enterprise. There will be lot of resistance by interest groups; ministers, babus, trade unions and contractors. But whatever the odds, close the eyes and do it. It doesn't require RS majority but iron will to do something good for the country). 2. Reduce tax rates drastically to attract foreign/domestic investment. Everybody knows in the world about business potential in emerging economies but they also see the other factors like taxation policy, babudom, rigid labor policies etc. If in the bargain, social spending comes down, let it be so. No price is more when it comes to country's interest. 20% maximum tax should be the target. 25% maximum rate should be implemented by end of this government term. 20% by 2024 - Is Rahul also listening? 3. Business and enterprises leadership have a vision for next 20 years. Country's leadership should have vision for next 50 years. That means redesign your social sector schemes like MNERGA. No more FAWADA or BELCHA driven works but BULLDOZER and other sophisticated machinery driven works with modern and lasting facilities. There should be no difference in quality of roads, electricity, schools, hospitals and malls between villages, towns, cities and metros. No more TALAB KHUDAI and KACHHI SADAKS. TALABS only produce mosquito and KACHI SADAKS damage cars and motor cycles, besides take longer to commute. Sometimes even no roads are better than gravel roads. That will require expert contractors and sophisticated machinery, so be it. Those will use less manpower, so be it. 50 years vision requires airports every 200 kilometers. A stage will come when railways will be used only for freight, plan for that NOW. 4. All parties should agree for a consutional amendment to hold general elections for parliament and emblies together every 5 years. Direct elections of RS MP should be made possible (US Senate model may be copied. We tried to copy House of Lords). 5. Three huge industrial corridors declared as free trade zones should be notified with 100 km depth on either side of the railway lines: (a) Delhi Mumbai. (b) Delhi Calcutta (c) Delhi Chennai These corridors should be tax heavens and are expected to provide jobs to locals. Please don't get fooled with the false accusations that farmers will be uprooted and agricultural produce will be lost. No country has been able to become rich and advanced without industrialization. 6. Empty slogans will achieve will nothing, concrete action will. You don't need RS majority for everything. Even if you keep pleasing poor, farmers and dalits and do nothing about 5 action points I've listed, what's the guarantee that BJP will return to power in 2019? What's guaranteed is however that India will still have poverty after 100 years, may be 1000 years if nothing is done and only political CHAPATTIS are cooked! Good luck Modiji.
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                            rahul
                            Mar 12, 2016 at 3:34 am
                            "However, such bills can be introduced in either House..." As per A. 117, a financial bill shall not be introduced in the Council of States. A glaring error in this particular piece. Necessary rectification shall be made.
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                              Raj
                              Mar 12, 2016 at 11:35 am
                              yes you are write which wrote by you(indianexpress) and also cheat to indian people
                              Reply
                              1. R
                                RJ
                                Mar 12, 2016 at 3:58 pm
                                Anything that congress and left oppose must be good for India.
                                Reply
                                1. S
                                  S K
                                  Mar 12, 2016 at 8:52 am
                                  Oh! is that so? UPA had termed several bills which will not fall within the definition provided by the author. e.g how Workmens compensation act can be termed as money bill? is it because Congis decided so???
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                                    Thomas George
                                    Mar 12, 2016 at 9:21 am
                                    270 in LS does not mean that BJP now owns the country. They have to still play by the rules. But, India has been an anarchy for a long time far before Modi came to power. Everyone does what they can get away with.
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                                      Thomas George
                                      Mar 12, 2016 at 9:13 am
                                      Aadhaar was a UPA initiative. The BJP did everything to scuttle it citing national security and Bangaldeshi migrants. All the current issues are because of modifications demanded by the BJP when they were in Opposition. Aadhaar does not help the poor; it helps the government reduce subsidies. The matter raised by the author is a technical one, that of parliamentary procedure. But, when sloganeering happens in the House, lawyers beat up prisoners in custody etc., we have anarchy where no procedure holds.
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                                        Thomas George
                                        Mar 12, 2016 at 9:09 am
                                        It was languishing because Jaitley and Co blocked it during the UPA. They were the ones who forced the change to make it a "voluntary" scheme.
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                                          Thomas George
                                          Mar 12, 2016 at 9:08 am
                                          The "Congress did it" argument is not a valid one. In that case, I can argue that robbing someone is acceptable because other people do it.
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                                            Thomas George
                                            Mar 12, 2016 at 9:20 am
                                            The BJP were upset with Aadhaar and MNREGA when the UPA brought it. Congress is not upset with Aadhaar; they are upset with Modi claiming that he thought of DBT in speeches he made all over the world. What leader can he be, when he can't even credit Manmohan Singh for Aadhaar?
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