In a hurry to give Aadhaar card the much needed legal status, the government is likely to push through the National Identification Authority of India (NIDAI) Bill, 2013 in the coming winter session of the parliament.
Highly placed sources told dna that the government is unlikely to refer the new bill that incorporates several changes and is markedly different from the NIDAI Bill, 2010, back to the parliamentary standing committee.
Though there is no legal bar, according to convention a legislation that has been sent to the parliamentary standing committee once should be sent to the committee again if it has been drafted afresh and contains several changes.
“They often do it. Recently they did with the SEBI ordinance. We objected to it during the monsoon session. In the fitness of things, they should send a new bill back to the standing committee. The BJP will insist that they do so in case of National Identification Authority of India (NIDAI) Bill. We will not let them steamroll this ill-conceived legislation,” Yashwant Sinha told dna.
Trying to give the much-needed legality to the Aadhaar card that got eroded after the Supreme Court stripped off its special status by observing that it cannot be made mandatory for government schemes, the Union cabinet on October 8 cleared the National Identification Authority of India Bill.
Sources said the new draft of the Bill, that was trashed by the Yashwant Sinha headed parliamentary standing committee, has incorporated only a few of its recommendations. The bill, pegging the total cost of the project at Rs12,400 crore, also defines powers of the UIDAI and seeks to protect the privacy of individuals.
The Congress-led UPA government is keen to get all the central subsidy schemes linked to the Aadhaar card to make its key campaign Aapka Paisa Apke Haath, (direct benefit transfer schemes from scholarships, pensions to cooking gas subsidy), a success before the run up to the 2014 elections.
While the government was trying to achieve it by going into an enrollment overdrive with the help of Nandan Nilekani-led Unique Identification Authority of India (UIDAI) and roping in the office of the Registrar General of India, the Apex Court’s order halted it in its steps.
The Bill, in all likelihood, (unless the government decides to go with an ordinance) will now be tabled in the winter session of the parliament to give statutory status to both the UIDAI and Aadhaar. But getting it cleared in the parliament may be a cake walk for the government as political parties would not want the Congress to take away the credit for benefitting crores of people just before Lok Sabha elections.
BJP is almost confident that it would be stalled in the Rajya Sabha, if not Lok Sabha.