Clear pattern in undermining constitutional and regulatory institutions: Congress
New Delhi, March 23: The Congress today alleged a clear pattern had emerged over the past three years that showed the Narendra Modi government was undermining constitutional, regulatory and academic institutions.
Citing several instances, including the attempt to bypass scrutiny by the Rajya Sabha and parliamentary committees by taking the money bill route, encroaching upon the exclusive domains of institutions like the RBI and clampdown on Jawaharlal Nehru University, the Congress said this was a dangerous trend that would harm democracy.
Congress spokesperson Rajeev Gowda said: "The government has invoked all kinds of extraneous provisions to undermine the authority of the Rajya Sabha. They want to escape the scrutiny by the Rajya Sabha and parliamentary standing committees by designating most financial bills as money bill. The finance minister can very well brand all bills as money bill and ignore parliamentary scrutiny."
The Rajya Sabha has no say on a money bill and the government is crushing Opposition using its brute majority in the Lok Sabha, he said. Even Aadhaar was designated as money bill and former Congress minister Jairam Ramesh has moved the Supreme Court against the Government's decision. Gowda today hinted at more judicial cases if the government persisted with this tendency.
Gowda objected to the decision to make Aadhaar mandatory, contending that the decision was in violation of the Supreme Court order. "The purpose of Aadhaar was to provide identification, not to make it a prerequisite for availing government services. Making it mandatory for filing tax returns will create complications."
Amendments were passed yesterday along with the Finance Bill to make Aadhaar mandatory for filing of income-tax returns as well for obtaining permanent account number (PAN). Congress leaders and several analysts feel that apart from exposing citizens biometric to the possibility of theft and misuse, this will create privacy issues and financial complications.
Gowda recalled how the demonetisation decision undermined the autonomy of the RBI, "reducing it to a mockery."
He referred to electoral bonds too, arguing that this will facilitate anonymous political donations by crony capitalists and make the money trail difficult to track. The Congress had earlier objected to the decision to make changes in the law for electoral bonds during the passage of the Finance Bill.
Contending that there was is a lot of concern about how changes in vital laws were done through the Finance Bill, Gowda said: "Any time that the finance minister chooses to introduce provisions which should have been included in the amendment to the Representation of the People Act and amendment to the IT Act and amendments to some other acts. These are ways of bypassing Parliament, the Rajya Sabha and Parliamentary Standing Committees and this must be condemned. This is not the way to move forward."