Rajya Sabha Passes Finance Bill With Amendments

Rajya Sabha Passes Finance Bill With Amendments

Rajya Sabha Passes Finance Bill With Amendments

In the 245-member Rajya Sabha, the BJP has 56 members while the NDA jointly has 74 members. The amendments by Digvijay Singh were adopted after division of votes gave a clear "ayes' to the opposition".

Three amendments by senior Congress leader Digvijaya Singh on curbing additional powers to Income Tax officials, and CPI (M) general secretary Sitaram Yechury's two amendments on nullifying the changes made to the Companies Act on political funding were accepted by the elders. He said Aadhaar was a "great initiative" of the previous UPA government and said the NDA dispensation is expanding it.

Jaitley also dismissed the Dhoni Aadhaar leak incident, saying it was a one-off case and the UIDAI, the agency that issues Aadhaar, had taken swift action, blacklisting the centre that leaked the information for 10 years. "By smuggling non-financial matters into the Finance Bill, defining it as a money bill thereby depriving the Rajya Sabha of its right to discuss these matters is actually undermining the entire Constitutional scheme of things", he said.

Yechury said that while Prime Minister Narendra Modi gives political lectures on eliminating political corruption during elections, what they are doing to the laws is exactly opposite. Responding to questions by Congress members as to why Aadhaar was being made mandatory, he sought to know why this technology should not be utilised since it was created for public benefit.

P Chidambaram led the opposition charge and asked the government how it would protect the people's private information from being hacked through Aadhaar.

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Speaking on Sakshi Dhoni's complaint, the Finance Minister said "It was immature behaviour on behalf of the person who went there". "That is not a ground to say that hacking takes place only because Aadhaar is there". Allaying fears of opposition members on the security of the Aadhar data, Mr. Jaitley said that misuse of the privacy of Aadhar data will be punishable. Among other things, the amendments make it impossible to file an income tax return or to obtain a PAN card without an Aadhaar card, would grant the government power to appoint and remove the chiefs of administrative tribunals, and would allow corporations to make anonymous contributions of unlimited size to political parties.

Finance Bill in its current form provides "Sweeping powers" to income-tax officers which will allow officers to conduct search and surveys without sanction from the higher authorities.

"As concerned citizens of India, we are appalled and dismayed at the Government's use of Money Bills to push through important legislation that affects all citizens, without requiring approval by both houses of Parliament". The sources who report about any tax evasion can not be allowed to be identified, he pointed out. "He has really gone in for the kill in Finance Bill", the former Union minister said. His assurances, however, did not cut ice with the Opposition which kept asking questions.

A group of eminent citizens, including noted jurist Fali S Nariman, has written to Vice President Hamid Ansari expressing concern over classification of the Finance Bill, 2017, as a Money Bill.

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