The Bill to amend the Aadhaar Act, 2016, the Indian Telegraph Act 1885 and the Prevention of Money Laundering Act 2002 was passed unanimously by the Lok Sabha on Thursday after it was introduced by the Union Law Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad. The aim of these new amendments is the imposition of strict penalties in lieu of violation of norms that have been set for using Aadhaar and also a violation of privacy.
The Cabinet Minister Prasad during a debate said, “Bill is citizen-centric and people-friendly. It would enable the UIDAI to have a more robust mechanism to serve the public interest and act as a deterrent against the misuse of Aadhaar. “
However, the All India Majlis-e-Ittehadul Muslimeen MP Asaduddin Owaisi has an entirely different opinion on the introduction of the amendment. According to him, the government is trying to divert the benefits towards private entities from the Aadhaar legislation. Owaisi said, “I don’t know why this government has so much love for private entities,” he said. “Why are you demeaning this House by bringing this Bill?”
Amendments In The Bill
With the introduction of this new amendment to the Bill, no individual will be required to provide proof of possessing Aadhaar number or fulfill authentication for establishing his identity unless the process demands as per the law made by the Parliament.
Prasad claimed that this Bill will be helpful to the public when it comes to opening bank accounts where they can use the Aadhaar number for authentication voluntarily as an acceptable KYC document.
The Union Minister further added, “The amendment will allow voluntary use of Aadhaar number in physical or electronic form by authentication or offline verification with the consent of the Aadhaar number holder. It will also allow the use of the 12-digit Aadhaar number and its alternative virtual identity to conceal the actual Aadhaar number of an individual. The Bill also provides the option to the children, who are Aadhaar number holders, to cancel it on attaining the adult age.”
According to Prasad the amendments proposed in the Bill are wholesome and comply with the orders from the Supreme Court. While waiving off the concerns about the privacy of data post introduction of these amendments, Prasad said, “We have ensured safeguards for the prohibition of data theft. India’s data sovereignty needed to be protected fully and categorically and Aadhaar was clear on it.”
While slamming the members for referring to the order by the apex court to oppose the Bill, the Union Minister of Law said, “Don’t turn this House into a court. We are here to make laws and we also have the power to undo judgment. Please don’t minimize your power. The people of the country have given you the power to frame laws.”
Owaisi Opposes The Amendment Comparing It With Halala
Owaisi criticized the Bill and called it a “classic example of halala.” In the Muslim community Nikah halala is a practice in which a divorced woman marries another man, consummates the marriage and divorces him to remarry her former husband. Owaisi said, “The Supreme Court had ended marriage between state and private parties on the use of Aadhaar, now this Bill is halala. Supreme Court called it a vice, government making it a virtue.”
According to him, there are seven clauses in the Bill that violate the judgment of the Supreme Court on Aadhaar Card. Owaisi said, “You are doing a crime over here. You could pass this bill with a brute majority, but be rest assured that it will be struck down by the courts.”
Apart from Owaisi many other leaders of the opposition also voiced their protest against the Bill. These include Congress leader Adhir Ranjan Chowdhury, Trinamool Congress leader Krishnagara Mahua Moitra, Nationalist Congress Party MP Supriya Sule and Communist Party of India (Marxist) R Natarajan.