The Congress on Wednesday said it would move the Supreme Court if the Narendra Modi government brings amendments to the Aadhaar Act as money bill to bypass the Rajya Sabha.
The party also hailed the judgment as a significant victory and said the decision to strike down the Modi government’s “surveillance tool” will put an end to the government’s “abuse of power”.
“This is an important verdict because the Aadhaar Act will have to be amended in the coming days. At that time, the same Finance Minister and the Speaker would say it is a money bill. If that happens, I assure you we will move the court,” Congress leader Kapil Sibal said.
“The way the government has bypassed the Rajya Sabha, we won’t accept that. We will again move the Supreme Court and plead that the amendments should not be routed as a money bill. We will ask for the present verdict (saying Aadhaar was a money bill) to be referred to a 7-Judge bench,” Sibal, who is also a senior Supreme Court lawyer, said.
Sibal pointed out that an important part of the judgment was that it unanimously agreed that the decisions of the Lok Sabha Speaker could be subject to judicial review.
He said while four judges of the Supreme Court upheld the classification of the Aadhaar Act as a money bill, Justice D.Y. Chandrachud dissented calling it a “debasement of the democratic structure” which renders the Act an “illegality”.
Justice Chandrachud has also held that passage of bills in such a manner by the government is a way of undermining the role of Parliament and parliamentarians, he said.
“This marks the beginning of a new era of accountability for the Speaker, who so far was beyond reproach,” he added.
Later, a party statement said the government sees Aadhaar not as a viable tool for the delivery of benefits but as a “mechanism to be misused by forcibly collecting data from the public and harvesting the same for purposes of surveillance”.
“The Congress party stands for an Aadhaar which is voluntary and backed by valid law. It stands for an Aadhaar which provides a genuinely stable, secure and viable alternative to existing forms of identification aimed at making it the most important tool for delivery of benefits rather than an invasion of privacy,” it said.
Referring to the minority judgment by Justice Chandrachud, the Congress said it is a scathing indictment of the government’s clandestine and dishonest approach towards its parliamentary responsibilities.