Rajya Sabha Must Protect the Spirit of the Indian Constitution- Eminent Jurist and Citizens

Eminent Jurist and Citizens have expressed concern on the classification of the Finance Bill, 2017 as a ‘Money Bill’ which is illegitimate and should not be considered as ‘Money Bill’....

हाइलाइट्स

Eminent Jurist and Citizens - Mr. Fali Nariman, Girish Karnad, TM Krishna, Aruna Roy, Jayati Ghosh, Zoya Hasan, Medha Patkar, Bezwada Wilson, Nandita Das, Swami Agnivesh, Usha Ramanathan, Prabhat Patnaik and more than 200 other concerned citizens have expressed concern on the classification of the Finance Bill, 2017 as a ‘Money Bill’ which is illegitimate and should not be considered as ‘Money Bill’.

New Delhi, March 29: Just six days ago, citizens of this country watched in shock and horror as the Finance Bill, 2017 was passed in the midst of a walk out by the Opposition in Lok Sabha. In introducing the bill as a Money Bill, the Government has continued the abuse of process where vital debates on the controversial Aadhaar (Targeted Delivery of Financial and other Subsidies, benefits and services) Bill, 2016 were avoided by tabling it as a ‘Money Bill’. The massive 92-page document of the Finance Bill, 2017 includes 40 amendments to a number of Acts. These amendments have far reaching consequences for not only several significant laws but the very nature of Indian democracy and constitution.

Following this abuse of process and avoidance of scrutiny, more than 175 persons from across civil society have written to the Vice President of India. Signatories include Fali Nariman, Prabhat Patnaik, Aruna Roy, Zoya Hasan, Medha Patkar, Jayati Ghosh, Swami Agnivesh, Usha Ramanathan, Bezwada Wilson, TM Krishna, Nandita Das, etc.

The letter asks the Vice President to "allow extensive and uninterrupted discussions into every aspect of the Bill No. 12-C of 2017 in the Upper House and put all these on record and do everything else in your power to ensure that the practice of by-passing important Bills by illegitimately classifying them as Money Bills is immediately stopped.”

As per this Bill, the Aadhaar card will be mandatory to file income-tax returns from July 1. The legislation also makes the unique ID compulsory to apply for a permanent account number (PAN). Speaking on the subversion of the parliamentary process in this manner, Aruna Roy of MKSS said, “In deliberate and shocking perversion of legislative procedures, the Finance Bill goes much beyond its limits to destroy basic democratic and fundamental rights.”

 The Finance Bill includes amendments to the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India Act, Companies Act, Employees Provident Fund Act, Information Technology Act, Smuggling and Foreign Exchange Act etc. It also allows funding of political parties to become even more opaque, increasing the potential for corruption.

Jagdeep Chhokar of the Association for Democratic Reforms stated that amending forty pieces of legislation through the Finance Bill, 2017, without application of mind of the Rajya Sabha, runs completely against the spirit of the Indian Constitution. Speaking on the proposed amendments related with political funding, he said, “Allowing electoral bonds on the donor’s side and removing the name of the recipient brings in complete opacity in political funding. This must be critically examined.”

Well-known Economist Jayati Ghosh stated that

"The Bill contains several provisions that will drastically increase “black money” and corruption. While the Government and the Speaker have ignored the concerns raised by the Opposition in the Lok Sabha, it has become a duty to speak out and raise concerns following the passage of a Bill that has in one fell swoop affected so many multiple rights that we normally take for granted."

Some of the signatories have asked for an appointment to meet the Vice President and present the letter and their concerns in person. An online petition has also been put up to garner more support on this issue. Copies of the letter were sent to members of the Opposition and the Rajya Sabha from different parties with the hope that a resolution might be moved stating that this bill cannot and should not be considered a money bill.

March 29, 2017

Shri Hamid Ansari

Chairperson, Rajya Sabha,

New Delhi

On the ongoing Illegitimate and inappropriate usage of the provisions related with Money Bills and Finance Bills by the Government

Dear Hon'ble Chairperson of the Rajya Sabha,

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.

This undemocratic strategy has already been employed in the case of the Aadhaar Bill, even though it contains many provisions that go well beyond is-sues relating to taxation and money appropriations of the government, which will directly affect every citizen of the country in numerous ways. Despite the fact the millions of citizens will be denied their rights because of this, the Bill makes access to many essential and other public services contingent on Aadhaar. It is already evident that making it compulsory in food distribution in some states has excluded many needy and deserving citizens without cause.

The Bill allows for unprecedented surveillance of every citizen and massive invasion of privacy. These can be used by governments at different levels to target political opponents and dissidents, as well as others. Because it enables data sharing even by private companies, it renders all citizens vulnerable to identity theft, fraud, cyber-piracy, data breaches and other uses of their personal data with very serious security implications. Furthermore, the protections and cyber-security provisions in the Bill are inadequate and do not meet the standards prevalent in most countries. Despite all these concerns, the Bill will not even be debated in the Rajya Sabha and has not been subject to adequate public scrutiny.

The most recent and alarming case of passing important and far reaching laws in the guise of Money Bills is the inclusion in the Finance Bill of some very important features that actually have no place in such a Bill and deserve to be independently discussed and debated.

The Bill contains several provision that will drastically increase “black money” and corruption. An important provision would enable political parties to receive unlimited and anonymous funding from corporate entities and from abroad, and will make electoral bonds anonymous. Since it is well known that political funding is probably the most important source of corruption in the country making it more opaque flies in the face of claims to greater transparency and will make matters even worse than they are at present with terrible implications for electoral democracy in the future. It is also in complete contrast to the treatment meted out to NGOs and civil society groups fighting for people’s rights, who are not being allowed to receive legitimate funds on dubious grounds. The Finance Bill also gives sweeping powers without accountability to the Income Tax department, which can encourage extortion at all levels.

Such Bills, which have serious implications for democratic functioning and financial security of all citizens, require serious and extensive public discussion and debate at all levels, with knowledge of the full implications of all of their provisions. Therefore, they cannot and should not be passed as Money Bills. We, therefore, appeal to you to at the very least allow extensive and uninterrupted discussions into every aspect of the Bill No. 12-C of 2017 in the Upper House and put all these on record and do everything else in your power to ensure that the practice of by-passing important Bills by illegitimately classifying them as Money Bills is immediately stopped. We appeal to you to protect the rights and duties of the Upper House and the interests of all the people of India. These Bills and the relevant provisions that cannot be described as routine in any sense, must be subject to proper democratic scrutiny in both houses of Parliament.

Signed by,

Aruna Roy, Mazdoor Kisan Shakti Sangathan

Prabhat Patnaik, Professor Emeritus, JNU, New Delhi

Fali Nariman, Eminent Jurist and Senior Advocate, Supreme Court

Jayati Ghosh, Professor, JNU, New Delhi

Zoya Hasan, Professor Emerita, Jawaharlal Nehru University

Anand Teltumbde, Author, Civil Rights Activist and Management Professional

T M Krishna, Musician, Writer, Public Speaker, Activist

Medha Patkar, Narmada Bachao Andolan, NAPM

Mary E John, Centre for Women’s Development Studies, New Delhi

Girish Karnad, Playwright, Actor, Director

EAS Sarma, Former Secretary to the Govt. of India

Deep Joshi, PRADAN

Kalpana Kannabiran, Council for Social Development, Hyderabad

Nikhil Dey, Mazdoor Kisan Shakti Sangathan

Teesta Setalvad, Citizens for Justice and Peace

Ram Puniyani, All India Secular Forum

Wajahat Habibullah, Former Chief Information Commissioner

Prashant Bhushan, Senior Counsel, Supreme Court of India

Nandini Sundar, Professor, Department of Sociology, Delhi University

Trilochan Sastry, Association for Democratic Reforms

Achin Vanaik, Retired Professor, University of Delhi

Yogendra Yadav, President, Swaraj India

Pamela Philipose, Senior Journalist

Jagdeep Chhokar, Association for Democratic Reforms

Harsh Mander, Centre for Equity Studies

Prof. Anandalakshmy, President, Bala Mandir Research Foundation, Chennai

Bezwada Wilson, Safai Karmchari Andolan

Nandita Das, Actor, Writer, Director

Amar Kanwar, Film-maker

Lalit Mathur, Former IAS Officer

Satish Deshpande, Professor, Delhi University

Vrinda Grover, Advocate, Supreme Court of India

Bina Agarwal, Professor of Development Economics

Usha Ramanathan, Independent Legal Researcher, Delhi

Vandana Shiva, Research Foundation for Science Technology and Ecology, Delhi

Mohini Giri, Guild of Service

Annie Raja, National Federation of Indian Women

Manisha Sethi, Jamia Milia Islamia University, Delhi

Sumi Krishna, Writer, Researcher and Teacher, Bengaluru

Reyhan Datta, SOS Children’s Village, West Bengal

Arundhati Dhuru, NAPM, Uttar Pradesh

Sandeep Pandey, Prof. and Activist

Sadanand Menon, Freelance Media Person

Nityanand Jayaraman, Writer, social activist, Chennai

Krishnakant Chauhan, NAPM

Suhas Kolhekar, NAPM

Osama Manzar, Digital Empowerment Foundation

Anjali Bhardwaj, NCPRI

Kavita Srivastava, PUCL Rajasthan

Gabriele Dietrich, NAPM and Pennurimai Iyakkam

Vasanth Kannabiran, Activist and Writer

Sanjay Kak, Film-maker, Delhi

Rohini Hensman, Author and Activist

Mamta Jaitly, Vividha, Jaipur

Kamayani Bali- Mahabal, Jan Swasthya Abhiyan, Mumbai

Bhaskar Prabhu, Mahiti Adhikar Manch, Mumbai and NCPRI

Dunu Roy, Hazards Centre

Rajendra Ravi, NAPM

Swami Agnivesh

Nivedita Menon, Jawaharlal Nehru University

Aditya Nigam, CSDS, Delhi

Daniel Mazgaonkar, Sarvodaya Movement

Pradip Prabhu, Kashtakari Sanghatna

Bela Bhatia, Researcher, Activist, Chhattisgarh

Sudhir Vombatkere, NAPM

Irfan Engineer, Centre for Study of Society and Secularism

Anupam Saraph, Innovator and Thought Leader

Dyuti, Researcher, Delhi

Raksha Kumar, Independent Journalist

Neha Dixit, Independent Journalist

Laxmi Murthy, Journalist, Bangalore

Vipul Mudgal, Common Cause

Amrita Johri, NCPRI

Revati Laul, Independent Journalist and Film-maker

Annie Thomas, Journalist, Chennai

Gopal Krishna, Citizens Forum for Civil Liberties

Aruna Burte

Rina Mukherji, Independent Journalist, Kolkata

Radhika Desai

Radha Holla Bhar, Independent Researcher

Manoj Mitta, Independent Journalist

Arun Gupta, International Baby Food Action Network

Amrita Shodhan

Kiran Shaheen, Activist, Delhi

Rita Anand, Editor, Civil Society

Panchali Ray, Jadavpur University

Mohan Rao, Professor, JNU, New Delhi

James Pochury, Delhi

Aruna Rodrigues, Madhya Pradesh

A Mani, University of Calcutta

Farah Naqvi, Independent Writer & Activist

Rajni Palriwala, Professor, Dept. of Sociology, Delhi University

Wilfred Dcosta, Indian Social Action Forum, New Delhi

Snehlata Gupta, University of Delhi

Vickram Krishna

Indu Prakash Singh, Activist, Delhi

Linda Chhakchhuak Jayanti Banerjee Dipak Dholakia

Bhavani, M S Swaminathan Research Foundation

Sharad Lele, Bangalore

Subhash Gatade, New Socialist Initiative

Virginia Saldanha, Indian Christian Women’s Movement

Ammu Joseph, Journalist, Bangalore Anita Cheria, OpenSpace, Bangalore

Chhaya Datar

R Padmini, Child Rights Trust, Bangalore

Jhuma Sen, Asst. Prof., O P Jindal Global University

Niti Saxena

Richa Singh, Sangtin Kisan Majdoor Sangthan

Nazariya Foundation, New Delhi

Ramshanker Tiwari, Retd. Labour Commissioner (Central)

Svati Joshi, Academic, Formerly with the Delhi University

Karuna D W, Researcher, Chennai

Shashank Kela, Writer, Chennai

Astrid Lobo, Satyashodhak and Indian Christian Women’s Movement

Chayanika Shah, Forum Against Oppression of Women, Mumbai

Rakhi Sehgal, Labour Activist, Delhi

Seema, Bhopal

Vandana Mahajan, Independent Practitioner

Kalpana Mehta, Indore

Sherna Gandhy, Pune

Roshmi Goswami

Madhu Sarin, CSD, Chandigarh

Ammu Abraham, Forum Against Oppression of Women, Mumbai

Anubha Rastogi, Advocate, Mumbai

Ritu Dewan

Madhu Mehra, Lawyer, New Delhi

Suniti S R, NAPM

Meera Sanghamitra, NAPM Sharanya, Humane, Koraput

Kalyani Menon Sen, Feminist Learning Partnerships

S. Anandhi, Associate Prof., Madras Institute of Development Studies, Chennai.

Sejal Dave, ANANDI

Qaneez Sukhrani, Association of Nagar Road Citizens’ Forums, Pune

Sujata Patel, President, Indian Sociological Society

Stan Swamy Bagaicha, Ranchi, Jharkhand

Prakash Burte

Anwar Jafri, Samavesh, Madhya Pradesh

Suneeta Dhar, Activist, New Delhi

Sheetal Sharma, North East Network, Assam

Padmaja Shaw, Retd. Professor, Osmania University

Wilson Naik Rathore, Hyderabad University

Nitya Ghotge, Pune

Shobha, Human Rights Activist, Bangalore

Mira Shiva, Coordinator, Initiative for Health & Equity in Society

Malini Manjoly, Bihar

Sobha Rani, University of Hyderabad

Manjari Katju, University of Hyderabad

Varghese Theckanath S.G., Montfort Social Institute, Hyderabad

Vikram Vyas, Ajit Foundation Science Centre

Vinatha Viswanathan

Indira C, Public Health Researcher, Delhi

Anuradha Kapoor, Kolkata

Neeraj Malik, former professor, Delhi University

Javed Malick, former professor, Delhi University National Federation of Indian Women

Payal Dhar, New Delhi

Aheli Moitra, The Morung Express, Nagaland

Koninika Ray, National Federation of Indian Women

Padma Velaskar, Retd. Prof., TISS, Mumbai

Sadhna Arya, University of Delhi

Abha Bhaiya, Activist

Monisha Behal, Activist

Aravinda Potluri, Independent Solidarity Activist A.Suneetha, Senior Fellow, Anveshi, Hyderabad

Ashish Kothari, Kalpavriksh, Pune

Shweta Rao, Delhi

Aditi Chanchani, EQUATIONS

Satinath Sarangi, Bhopal Group for Information and Action

Rashida Bee & Champa Devi Shukla, Bhopal Gas Peedit Mahila Stationary Karmchari Sangh

Nawab Khan, Bhopal Gas Peedit Mahila Purush Sangharsh Morcha

Balkrishna Namdeo, Bhopal Gas Peedit Nirashrit Pensionbhogee Sangharsh Morcha

Saheli Women's Resource Centre, New Delhi Alok Prasanna Kumar, Advocate, Supreme Court

Madhuresh Kumar, NAPM

Aniket Alam

Nandini Rao, Activist, Delhi

Shakil Nazim, Former Officer, Govt. of Rajasthan

Col. Pavan Nair VSM (Retd.), Trustee Jagruti Seven Sanstha, Pune

Aruna Chandrasekhar, Independent Journalist

Alamu R, Jawaharlal Nehru University

M.G.Devasahayam, Convener, Forum for Electoral Integrity, Chennai

Geeta Seshu, Independent Journalist, Mumbai

Anuradha Kapoor, Swayam, Kolkata

Brinelle D'Souza, Faculty, Tata Institute of Social Sciences

Sangeeta Chatterji

Sharmila, Department of HSS, IIT Bombay

Olga Netto, ICWM, Mumbai

Madhusree Mukherjee, Kolkata

Madhu Bhushan, Independent Activist, (Re)searcher, Writer, Bangalore

Dr. Amar Jesani, Mumbai

R. Krishnaswami, Erode, Tamilnadu

Dr.Murali Lingam, Popular Hospital, Bangalore

Philomena D'Souza, Nashik

Vahida Nainar

Devvrat, Advocate, Supreme Court

Mahi Pal Singh, Indian Radical Humanist Association

Rachael Alphonso, ICWM and Green Madcaps

Bhanwar Meghwanshi, Journalist, Author and Dalit Activist

Preeti Sampat, Academic, Ambedkar University, Delhi

Simpreet, Mumbai, TISS

Radhakant Saxena, PUCL, Rajasthan

Prem Shankar Sharma, PUCL, Rajasthan

K. Saradamoni and G. Asha

Jagdish Patel, Peoples Training and Research Centre, Vadodara

Saikat Ghosh, Assistant Professor, IIT-Kanpur

Dr. Shaikh Ghulam Rasool, Chairman J&K RTI Movement

Pushkar Raj, New Delhi

Kaushik Ghosh, The University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia, USA

Sudeshna Sengupta

Yug Mohit Chaudhary, Senior Advocate, Mumbai High Court

Pandav Nayak, IGNOU, New Delhi

Rakesh Ganguli, Development Practitioner, Maharashtra

Battini Rao, Progressive Organisation of People

Dr.G.Vijay, Assistant Professor, School of Economics, University of Hyderabad

and many more.

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