MAINTAINING THAT the Speaker’s decision was not amenable to judicial review, the central government Tuesday opposed a PIL filed by Congress leader Jairam Ramesh, who has challenged the decision to treat Aadhaar Bill as a money Bill. The Bill was passed during the Budget session in March after overruling the amendments moved in the Rajya Sabha.
Defending the Speaker’s decision, Attorney General Mukul Rohatgi told a bench led by Chief Justice of India T S Thakur that Ramesh’s petition could not be entertained since the Speaker’s views on whether or not to treat a Bill as money Bill was not open to judicial reviews and that there was a complete immunity to such proceedings inside Parliament.
He also objected to the PIL on the ground that there was no violation of any fundamental right of the Congress leader and hence a writ petition under Article 32 was not maintainable.
Countering the submissions, Ramesh’s counsel P Chidambaram and Kapil Sibal argued that the issues involved were too serious to be thrown out on the mere ground that the petition was not maintainable under Article 32. “The court should consider whether this is a money Bill and lay down guidelines on what should be a money Bill or not,” Chidambaram said.
At this, the bench sought to know from them why this matter could not be heard by the Delhi High Court but Chidambaram said that the apex court should decide the issues once and for all.
The bench then asked Ramesh’s counsel to submit a note of their submissions and case laws and adjourned the hearing for July.
Ramesh had moved the court against the Aadhaar (Targeted Delivery of Financial and Other Subsidies, Benefits and Services) Act, calling it unconstitutional. Once the Lok Sabha passes a money Bill with or without amendments recommended by the Rajya Sabha, it is deemed to have been passed by both the Houses. It is generally believed that Speaker’s discretion is final in the matter.
But in his petition, Ramesh said that Aadhaar cannot be a money Bill under the constitutional provisions since the Act contains a substantial number of provisions that do not pertain to matters described as admissible under a money Bill. He added that the introduction of the Aadhaar Act as a money Bill was a brazen and malafide attempt to bypass the approval of the Rajya Sabha, which holds an important place in the Constitutional and democratic framework of law-making.