All India Majlis-e-Ittehadul Muslimeen MP Asaduddin Owaisi on Thursday alleged that the government was trying to help private entities benefit from the Aadhaar legislation. “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?”
The Lok Sabha passed the Aadhaar & Other Laws (Amendment) Bill, 2019 with a voice vote. Union Minister of Electronics and Information Technology Ravi Shankar Prasad introduced the Bill that will replace an ordinance issued in March. The Bill makes the use of Aadhaar for opening bank accounts and procuring mobile phone connections voluntary.
Owaisi called the Bill “a classic example of halala”. Nikah halala is a Muslim practice in which a woman, after being divorced, marries another man, consummates the marriage, and gets divorced again in order to remarry her former husband. “The Supreme Court had ended marriage between state and private parties on use of Aadhaar, now this Bill is halala,” said Owaisi. “Supreme Court called it a vice, government making it a virtue.”
He pointed out seven clauses in the Bill that, according to him, violate the Supreme Court judgement on Aadhaar. “You are doing a crime over here,” he said. Owaisi said the Bill will not stand in the court of law. “You could pass this bill with a brute majority, but be rest assured that it will be struck down by the courts,” he added.
Owaisi was not the only one to criticise the government on the Bill. Congress leader Adhir Ranjan Chowdhury said Aadhaar was the brainchild of the United Progressive Alliance government. “You have loaned the concept of Aadhaar from us,” Chowdhury said.
He accused the NDA government of frequently resorting to ordinances. “The government should first bring data protection bill,” he said, adding that it was not giving due importance to privacy.
To this, minister Prasad said the government would soon bring in a data protection law. “The data protection law is work in progress,” said Prasad. “We have the Justice Srikrishna Committee report. Some more inter- ministerial consultation is going on.” He added that India should also have a data analytics centre.
The Trinamool Congress also opposed the amendments. The party’s legislators argued that it lacked transparency and would hurt individual privacy.
TMC MP from Krishnagara Mahua Moitra said the Bill spoke about a regulator that will govern the various provisions, but no details were mentioned in the Bill. Like Congress leader Chowdhury, Moitra also stressed on the need for a data protection law. “Without a data protection law, it is like putting cart before the horse,” she said.
She questioned a provision in the Bill that says the authority can take legal recourse in case of a data breach. She said the legal recourse should lie with the person whose privacy has been breached.
Nationalist Congress Party MP Supriya Sule accused the government of cheating the common man. “What privacy we are talking about?,” she asked. “Why is Aadhaar card compulsory? What is it? What is voter card then? We all have voter ID.”
She agreed with Congress leader Chowdhury that the Aadhaar was the United Progressive Alliance government’s initiative. “They are only growing on the programmes which UPA started,” she said.
Communist Party of India (Marxist) R Natarajan said the Bill was in contravention to the Supreme Court judgement. Revolutionary Socialist Party MP K Premachandran demanded that the Bill be sent to a standing committee or select committees of Parliament.