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Supreme Court: The Centre told the 5-judge bench of Ranjan Gogoi, CJ and N V Ramana, D Y Chandrachud, Deepak Gupta and Sanjiv Khanna, JJ that Finance Bill of 2017 was certified as a Money Bill by the Speaker of the Lok Sabha and judicial review of that decision cannot be done.

Attorney General K K Venugopal told the Court that petitioners’ contention that certification of Finance Bill of 2017 as Money Bill was not right cannot be a ground for a challenge to the Bill. He said:

“The Act of 2017 deals with various aspects of finance. Speaker of the House gave the certification that Finance Act was a Money Bill. Finance Act of 2017 was passed by the Parliament as a Money Bill irrespective of the objections in Rajya Sabha.”

He added that “Certification of a particular Act as a Money Bill is an internal functions of the Parliament. If there is any dispute, the Speaker can applies his mind and takes a decision. No one can questions the bonafide of the Speaker and all members abide by the decision.”

Submitting that Supreme Court has repeatedly held in its verdicts that certification cannot be questioned and courts cannot inquire into the decision taken by Parliament, the AG said:

“This aspect is consistent with the broad parameters of separation of powers given in the Constitution. Similarly, Parliament cannot interfere with the affairs of judiciary.”

He also submitted that the Finance Bill comprises of amendments to several Acts and statutes and the petitioners have challenged only one particular aspect saying it cannot be termed as Money Bill.

“The certification of Money Bill is for the whole Finance Bill and saying that a part of the Bill does not qualify for the Money Bill cannot be held to be correct.”

On March 27, the Court had said:

“If we hold that it was not a money bill, then the matter rests there but if it is being held by the court that it was a money bill then subsequent issues which pertains to affairs of tribunal will be dealt,”

The Court clarified that it is not going to hear 20 lawyers on the same point repeatedly saying,

“this anarchy has to stop in the Supreme Court. Lawyers are arguing and arguing for 20 days on the same point”.

It asked the petitioners to discuss among themselves and sort it out as who will advance the arguments and if needed someone else can supplement on a particular point.

The Court will continue hearing the matter on April 2, 2019.

(Source: PTI)


Also read: Integrated Nodal Agency for all Tribunals: 5-judge SC bench seeks Centre’s view

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After hearing the much-debated Aadhaar matter for 38 days, the 5-judge bench of Dipak Misra, CJ and Dr. AK Sikri, AM Khanwilkar, Dr. DY Chandrachud and Ashok Bhushan, JJ has reserved the judgment. The hearing had begun on January 17, 2018.

Below are the highlights from the arguments advanced on the last day of the Aadhaar Hearing:

  • Senior Advocate Gopal Subramanium: 
    • Is Aadhaar really affirmative action? Is the act an enabler or is it in the guise of enabler? The act is not an instrumentality to deliver services. It is only a means of identification. We have to read the true purpose of law and whether the law seeks to achieve that purpose. Dignity and autonomy is not preserved by section 7 of the Aadhaar Act.
    • Aadhaar Act does not have a proper purpose. A claim to a proper purpose is not proper purpose. Authentication is at the heart of the Act. Failure of authentication is a ground for denial of services.
  • Chandrachud, J: An act like Aadhaar needs a regulator which is absent.
  • Gopal Subramanium: The state seeks to take away our data without the backing of a strong data protection framework. Words like “grant of subsidies, benefits and services” are expressions of condescension in Section 7. They are not treated like an entitlement. The burden is on the people to authenticate and establish their identity. Should the State logically be the holder of such information?
  • Chandrachud, J: Is “subsidy” a benefit or a right, that has to be decided.
  • Gopal Subramanium: 
    • Private players have access to Aadhaar data. There is no regime of protection. There is no vertical protection.
    • Section 7 has been interpreted to be mandatory. Can’t make citizens subservient under section 7 and call rights, benefits.
    • The Act is to be struck down completely as it fails all three tests laid down in Puttaswamy. There’s no legitimate state aim as the real aim is different from the purported aim. There was no law when Aadhaar was implemented and there’s no proportionality.
    • This Court consciously overruled ADM Jabalpur. The doctrine of possibility of misuse does not apply here because there is actual denial of rights in the case of Aadhaar.
    • Aadhaar Act should be completely struck down and the architecture and database must be destroyed.

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  • Senior Advocate Arvind P. Datar:
    • Aadhaar cannot be a money bill. At most, it can be a financial bill of category 3 under Article 117(3) of the Constitution.
    • Doctrine of severability will not apply to Aadhaar, since the doctrine is only applicable to validly enacted laws.
    • Mohd.Saeed Siddiqui and Yogendra Jaiswal should be overruled. Finality of speaker’s decision doesn’t mean that the bill cannot be subject to judicial review.
    • Under PMLA, Aadhaar is not just confined to banks but has gone beyond it’s scope. Aadhaar is needed for mutual funds, insurance policies and credit cards as well, among other things.
    • Only magic words like black money, national security and terrorism are being thrown around by the State. The justification of a law for proportionality cannot be a ritualistic exercise. Aadhaar is not justified under Article 300A of the Constitution.
    • Linking Aadhaar will never solve problems of money laundering and black money because the source of such money is different. This is colorable exercise of power. Black money and money laundering is being used as a ruse to collect people’s biometrics.
    • Section 57 should go completely. Anything outside Section 7 is completely violative of the Puttaswamy judgement. S.139AA of the income tax act is inconsistent with the Aadhaar Act.
    • There should be an option of opting out of Aadhaar.

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  • Senior Advocate P. Chidambaram:
    • AG’s reading of the word “only” in Article 110(g) is erroneous. There is no need to tamper the language of the Article.
    • Section 57 travels beyond Article 110 of the Constitution. Clause (g) of 110 (1) must be read very restrictively. The provision has to be incidental to (a) to (f) to come under (g). Clause (g) is not a substantive provision.
    • The implications of passing a non money bill as a money bill are very serious: One half of the parliament is virtually disabled from making any amendments. It denudes the highest constitutional authority of the country, the President of India.
    • There is no provision in the Constitution which gives the court the power of severability in case of an invalidly enacted legislation. The Australian constitution has such a provision.
    • The bill was passed without the effective participation of the Rajya Sabha and without assent from the President. The court cannot save a legislation that is fundamentally unconstitutional.
    • Pith and Substance doctrine cannot be applied in cases where the applicability of Article 110 is being interpreted. Only limited to entries of legislative lists.
    • The Court must strike down the Aadhaar Act as it is not a money bill. It is a mockery of Article 110.

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  • Senior Advocate K.V Vishwanathan: 
    • Respondents’ argument that the least intrusive method is not a facet of proportionality is completely erroneous. You can’t balance your own bundle of rights. Balancing Right to food and right to privacy is wrong.
    • Section 59 doesn’t protect Aadhaar during the time it was not an Act. Its a wrong submission made by the state. To rely on the exception handling mechanism is ultra vires the Act.
    • If it’s my rights and their duty, then they cannot discharge their duty by subjecting the poor and downtrodden of this country to a technological menace.
    • There can be no data collection and digitalization of records. The underpinning of the Aadhaar Act is authentication of individuals.
    • Harmonization of rights is being mis-applied by the respondents.

____________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

To read the highlights from the rejoinder submitted by the petitioners, click here and here.

To read the highlights from the submissions of AG KK Venugopal on the issue of money bill, click here.

To read the highlights from the submissions of Advocate Zoheb Hossain, click here.

To read the highlights from the submissions of Advocate Gopal Sankarnarayanan and Senior Advocate Neeraj Kishan Kaul, click here.

To read the highlights from the submissions of Senior Advocate Rakesh Dwivedi, click here , here , here , here and here.

To read the highlights from the submissions by ASG Tushar Mehta, click here and here.

To read the highlights from the submissions by the Attorney General, click here, here , here and here.

To read the highlights from the PowerPoint Presentation made by the CEO of UIDAI, click here.

To read the highlights from submissions of Senior Advocates Meenakshi Arora, Sajan Poovayya, CU Singh, Sanjay Hegde and Counsel Jayna Kothari, click here.

To read the highlights from submissions of Senior Advocates KV Viswanathan and Anand Grover, click here.

To read the highlights from Senior Advocate Arvind Datar’s submissions, click here, here and here.

To read the highlights from Senior Advocate Gopal Subramanium’s submissions, click herehere and here.

To read the highlights from Senior Advocate Kapil Sibal’s arguments, click here, here and here.

Looking for the detailed submissions of Senior Advocate Shyam Divan? Read the highlights from Day 1Day 2, Day 3, Day 4 , Day 5, Day 6 and Day 7 of the hearing.

Source: twitter.com/SFLCin

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On Day 35 of the Aadhaar Hearing, Advocate Zoheb Hossain, appearing for the State of Maharashtra and UIDAI, resumed his submissions before the 5-judge bench of Dipak Misra, CJ and Dr. AK Sikri, AM Khanwilkar, Dr. DY Chandrachud and Ashok Bhushan, JJ. Attorney General KK Venugopal made submissions on Aadhaar Act, 2016 being passed as a Money Bill.

Below are the highlights from the arguments advanced on Day 35 of the Aadhaar Hearing:

  • Advocate Zoheb Hossain:
    •  Data protection law is a positive obligation of the State. All rights give rise to a variety of duties. Aadhaar is a project to ensure socio economic rights of the people.
    • All human rights are equally important, indivisible and are interconnected. Socio economic rights are as important as civil and political rights.
    • a UN General assembly resolution says that ideal of freedom can only be achieved if conditions are created so that everyone can enjoy socio economic and civil political rights.
    • To judge proportionality, reasonableness of the measure/restrictions have to be shown from the point of view of the general public and not from the PoV of one affected party.
    • Right to privacy is an individual right which can be highly subjective or objective and the state cant be held to be vicariously liable for it. No petitioner has claimed infringement of right to privacy.questions the fact that right to Privacy violation is being heard as a PIL.
    • A person may use her aadhaar for obtaining SIM, opening bank account and getting PDS. Her telecom company will not have details of the bank/PDS. Similarly, her bank will not have info on her telecom and PDS. UIDAI won’t have any of the three details.
    • Aadhaar act provides adequate safety to identity and authentication records.
    • A party cannot expect strict adherance to the principles of natural justice during times of emergency.
    • Section 47 has been of challenge for not providing a right to complain. Purpose is discernible under the scheme of the act. A complaint can be filed to UIDAI therefore a person is not left remedy-less.
    • Aadhaar is technical and it’s best if UIDAI is given the power to complain as they best understand the matters. Similar provision in Industrial Disputes Act was upheld. UIDAI may authorize a person to make a complaint if they feel it’s genuine.
    • There are provisions under the IT act for offences such as Identity theft, violation of privacy etc.
    • The purpose of Aadhaar including section 139aa is to promote redistributive justice and ensure substantial equality along with furthering the dignity of the individual.  Aadhaar act and Income tax act are standalone acts and it cannot be said that parliament in it’s wisdom cannot make Aadhaar mandatory by way of an amendment.
    • This argument has already been examined and decided in binoy viswam. If the objects of the two statutes are different then they are said to run parallelly and not intersect. There’s no conflict.
    • Having Aadhaar for individuals also cures the evil vis-a-vis companies. Companies and individuals are treated differently in the income tax Act. That cannot be called unreasonable classification.
    • Section 165 of companies Act allows a person to be the director of twenty companies. If Aadhaar is linked with PAN, it can be checked whether a genuine person is the director of more than one company. The genuineness of the company can also be verified.
    • Problem of dummy directors and fake companies will be solved by linking Aadhaar with PAN.

______________________________________________

  • Attorney General KK Venugopal on the issue of Money Bill:
    • The term “targeted delivery of subsidies” contemplates expenditure of funds. The expenditure has to go into thousands of crores from the consolidated fund of India. This itself brings it into the ambit of money bill under Article 110 of the Constitution.
    • Even though the law has ancillary provisions, the main objective of the Act is delivery of services and benefits.
    • Sections 7, 24 and 25 along with the preamble of the Act brings it totally within the ambit of Article 110. Not a single provision in the act is unnecessary or unrelated to the main purpose/pith and substance of the act which is giving subsidies.
  • Chandrachud, J: Section 57 snaps the link with consolidated fund of India.
  • AG: When the contract is placed before your Lordships, then it has to be examined. We may not know today what color or aspect the contract under Section 57 would take.
  • Sikri, J: There’s no distribution of benefits and subsidies under section 57.
  • AG: Section 57 will be saved by Article 110(1)(g).
  • Chandrachud, J: You may be rewriting the Constitution!

____________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

To read the highlights from the submissions of Advocate Gopal Sankarnarayanan and Senior Advocate Neeraj Kishan Kaul, click here.

To read the highlights from the submissions of Senior Advocate Rakesh Dwivedi, click here , here , here , here and here.

To read the highlights from the submissions by ASG Tushar Mehta, click here and here.

To read the highlights from the submissions by the Attorney General, click here, here , here and here.

To read the highlights from the PowerPoint Presentation made by the CEO of UIDAI, click here.

To read the highlights from submissions of Senior Advocates Meenakshi Arora, Sajan Poovayya, CU Singh, Sanjay Hegde and Counsel Jayna Kothari, click here.

To read the highlights from submissions of Senior Advocates KV Viswanathan and Anand Grover, click here.

To read the highlights from Senior Advocate Arvind Datar’s submissions, click here, here and here.

To read the highlights from Senior Advocate Gopal Subramanium’s submissions, click herehere and here.

To read the highlights from Senior Advocate Kapil Sibal’s arguments, click here, here and here.

Looking for the detailed submissions of Senior Advocate Shyam Divan? Read the highlights from Day 1Day 2, Day 3, Day 4 , Day 5, Day 6 and Day 7 of the hearing.

Source: twitter.com/SFLCin

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As the Aadhaar Hearing reached Day 16, Senior Advocate P. Chidamabaram concluded his arguments on the issue of Aadhaar Act, 2016 being introduced as a Money Bill before the 5-judge bench of Dipak Misra, CJ and Dr. AK Sikri, AM Khanwilkar, Dr. DY Chandrachud and Ashok Bhushan, JJ. The most important take away from Day 16 hearing was that the Court scrapped the present deadline for linking Aadhaar stand extended till the final disposal of the matter.

Below are the highlights from Day 16 of the Aadhaar Hearing:

P. Chidambaram’s Submissions on Money Bill issue:

  • Speaker’s decision is not final. It is subject to judicial review.
  • (Reads S R Bommai v. Union of India) The satisfaction ofthe President mentioned in clause (1), shall be final and conclusive and shall notbe questioned in any court on any ground.
  • Any bill if passed in the guise of money bill strucks at the basic feature of Constitution i.e. federalism.
  • (Reads Raja Ram Pal v. Speaker) Validity of any proceeding in the Parliament on grounds of irregularity of procedure cannot be looked into by the court. However, illegality can be a ground for the courts to exercise judicial review. If the impugned procedure adopted in Parliament is illegal and unconstitutional, judicial review lies.
  • The question why it was termed as money bill was raised by MP Jairam Ramesh in the discussions. He had moved for amendments in the bill which were adopted in Rajya Sabha, however, these amendments were not considered by the Lok Sabha and it was passed in original.
  • The apparent object of the Aadhaar Bill is to make a law that will fit into Article 110(1)(c) & (g).
  • Chandrachud, J: If we cross the threshold of justiciability, which are the provisions are relatable to Art. 110?
  • Chidambaram: Question should be is there any provision in the Act which doesn’t fall under Ar. 110 (a) to (g). Because money bill can’t have any provision beyond (a) to (g). Provisions such as Section 57, 54, 23 go beyond the scope of Article 110. And hence it is not a money bill but merely a financial bill. It wasn’t a money bill when introduced or certified.
  • Chandrachud, J:  Does the entirety of the bill has to go or the portions can be severed-those provisions which fall under Art. 110?
  • Chidambaram: It will go in entirety. The provisions are not severable.
  • The provisions make it clear that it was not a money bill, then how could it have been passed as a money bill and the scrutiny of Rajya Sabha been bypassed. If this could slip through as a money bill, virtually any bill could slip as a money bill. It sets a very dangerous precedent. Money bill is an extremely narrow subset of financial bill. This bill goes far beyond the intended purpose of delivery of subsidies.

Submissions on issue of Aadhaar being made mandatory for Tatkal Passport:

  • Arvind Datar: Government can’t make Aadhaar mandatory in violation of SC order. (Further asks the court to consider extension of deadlines.)
  • AG KK Venugopal: There are other IDs eg. water bill, electeicity bill which can be taken. Aadhaar is only for expediting the procedure. Says that in case of passport under tatkal scheme, Aadhaar is required for out of turn consideration to expedite the process. (Requests that the extension of deadlines should not affect section 7- the subsidies.)

Hence, Court passed an interim order directing that the order passed on earlier occasion stands extended and that this extension would also cover the issue of passports.

To read the highlights from Senior Advocate Arvind Datar’s submissions, click here and here.

To read the highlights from Senior Advocate Gopal Subramanium’s submissions, click herehere and here.

To read the highlights from Senior Advocate Kapil Sibal’s arguments, click here, here and here.

Looking for the detailed submissions of Senior Advocate Shyam Divan? Read the highlights from Day 1Day 2, Day 3, Day 4 , Day 5, Day 6 and Day 7 of the hearing.

Source:  twitter.com/SFLCin

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Senior Advocate Arvind Datar continued his submissions before the 5-judge bench of Dipak Misra, CJ and Dr. AK Sikri, AM Khanwilkar, Dr. DY Chandrachud and Ashok Bhushan, JJ on Day 15 of the Aadhaar Hearing. Earlier, on Day 14, he had argued on the issue of Linking Bank Accounts to Aadhaar as per Rule 9 of Prevention of Money-laundering Act, 2002. After Arvind Datar concluded his submissions, Senior Advocate P. Chidambaram began his arguments on the issue of Aadhaar Act, 2016 being introduced as a Money Bill.

On the question of extending the deadline for linking Aadhaar, Chandrachud, J said:

“we cannot extend the dates for linking at the last moment because the financial institutions will be in a state of uncertainty till then thinking 31st March to be the last date for linking.”

The Court, however, said that it will pass an interim order, if required, on the issue on the next date of hearing i.e. 13.03.2018, after P. Chidambaram has concluded his submissions.

Below are the highlights from Day 15 of Aadhaar Hearing:

Arvind Datar’s submissions:

  • If you don’t give Aadhaar, your accounts will become inoperable. It can’t be called consent. There’s no option to opt out.
  • Aadhaar was preceded by NIA bill. Aadhaar Act was only for the purpose mentioned in the objects and using it for any other purpose would be invalid.
  • Chandrachud, J: The moment you extend Aadhaar to private entities, the money bill aspect will be gone.
  • Arvind Datar: Yes. The Act was passed as a money bill without any regard to the recommendations of Rajya Sabha. Had it not been a money bill, it would go to Rajya Sabha, recommendations would be considered, and Section 57 would not be there. An opt out clause would be there.
  • If one party is in dominating condition, it is not a free consent which is the case in this matter. To enroll or not to enroll is my choice. It is my decisional autonomy to part with or not to part with my personal information.
  • Today it is not possible for a person to survive without an Aadhaar. It has its intrusion from birth to death of an individual.
  • Aadhaar/PAN judgment should be revisited in light of the privacy judgment:
    • After Privacy judgment, it is the personal autonomy of the person whether she wants to take Aadhaar or not or even if she has aadhaar- whether she wants to link Aadhaar or not.
    • Attorney General, during the PAN case, had stated linking Aadhaar with PAN is the only foolproof method to ensure there are no fake PAN. (Tells about the case where a person entered 12 zeroes while filing income tax returns, his returns were accepted and refund processed.)
    • If your purpose is to eliminate fakes, it need not be perpetual. After achieving the purpose, my data should be returned. What is the need to keep it perpetually?
  • Mandatory Aadhaar for applying for NEET Exam:
    • In Gujarat, one cannot apply for NEET entrance exam without production of Aadhaar, last date being 9 March. Saya that it is a clear violation of the interim orders of the Court.
    • Attorney General KK Venugopal:  State has not authorised CBSE to make Aadhaar mandatory for entrance exams.
    • Bench: “Any such authority has the right to ask for some kind of identification but not exclusively Aadhaar. We will consider the relief for this particular case at the end of Mr. Chidambaram’s arguments.”

P. Chidambaram’s submissions on the issue of Money Bill:

  • Can one can bypass the scrutiny of Rajya Sabha by terming a bill as Money Bill?
  • A money bill cannot be introduced in Rajya Sabha. In this case, Rajya Sabha becomes only a recommending house. They have no legislative power but only recommendative power.
  • Money bill is a very special kind of bill. Therefore, in the light of denudation of the powers of Rajya Sabha and deprivation of powers of President, these provisions should be construed very narrowly and strictly so that nothing escapes in the guise of money bill.

Interim Order on Aadhaar being made mandatory for Entrance Exams:

The Bench passed an interim order on the CBSE NEET entrance exam and all other All-India examination that the applicants need not produce Aadhaar number for applying. They can produce any alternative means of identification including Ration card, driving licence, etc. The order will also be uploaded on the CBSE website.

To read the highlights from Senior Advocate Gopal Subramanium’s submissions, click herehere and here.

To read the highlights from Senior Advocate Kapil Sibal’s arguments, click here, here and here.

Looking for the detailed submissions of Senior Advocate Shyam Divan? Read the highlights from Day 1Day 2, Day 3, Day 4 , Day 5, Day 6 and Day 7 of the hearing.

Source:  twitter.com/SFLCin