A five-judge bench of the Supreme Court on Wednesday raised doubts over the correctness of the Aadhaar judgement delivered last year and has referred the validity of the law being passed as a money bill to a larger seven-judge bench, Bar and Bench reported. The top court held this while referring the passage of Finance Act 2017 as money bill to a larger bench earlier in the day.

The court on Wednesday said the Aadhaar judgement did not elucidate and explain the scope and ambit of sub-clauses (a) to (f) to clause (1) of Article 110 of the Constitution. Article 110(1) grants the Lok Sabha Speaker the authority to certify a draft law as a money bill as long as the legislation dealt only with all or any of the matters specifically listed in the provision.

The court said the judgement did not delineate the scope of Article 110(1). “Without expressing a firm and final opinion, it has to be observed that the analysis in KS Puttaswamy (Aadhaar-5) 59 makes its application difficult to the present case and raises a potential conflict between the judgements of coordinate Benches,” it said. “Given the various challenges made to the scope of judicial review and interpretative principles [or lack thereof] as adumbrated by the majority in KS Puttaswamy and the substantial precedential impact of its analysis of the Aadhaar Act, 2016, it becomes essential to determine its correctness.”

Justice DY Chandrachud, who was part of the five-judge bench led by then Chief Justice Dipak Misra, had said in September 2018 it was a “subterfuge” and a “fraud on the constitution”.

“The legal framework of the Aadhaar Act creates substantive obligations and liabilities which have the capability of impacting on the fundamental rights of residents,” he had said. “A bill, to be a money bill, must contain only provisions which fall within the ambit of the matters mentioned in Article 110. Therefore, the argument that the Aadhaar Act is in pith and substance” a Money Bill is rejected.”

Money bills contain provisions for the imposition of taxes and appropriation of money out of the consolidated fund. Only the Lok Sabha has voting rights on a money bill. While Rajya Sabha can debate it and suggest amendments, it is not mandatory for the Upper House to pass the bill.