Eminent Jurist and Citizens - Mr.FaliNariman, GirishKarnad, TM Krishna, Aruna Roy, JayatiGhosh, ZoyaHasan, MedhaPatkar, Bezwada Wilson, Nandita Das, Swami Agnivesh, UshaRamanathan, PrabhatPatnaik 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’.
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 inRajyaSabha 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. Here is copy of the letter.
March 29, 2017
Shri Hamid Ansari
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 RajyaSabha,
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 RajyaSabha 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 provisions 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. 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. It 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.
Aruna Roy, MazdoorKisan Shakti Sangathan
PrabhatPatnaik, Professor Emeritus, JNU, New Delhi
FaliNariman, Eminent Jurist and Senior Advocate, Supreme Court
JayatiGhosh, Professor, JNU, New Delhi
ZoyaHasan, Professor Emerita, Jawaharlal Nehru University
AnandTeltumbde, Author, Civil Rights Activist and Management Professional
T M Krishna, Musician, Writer, Public Speaker, Activist
MedhaPatkar, Narmada BachaoAndolan, NAPM
Mary E John, Centre for Women’s Development Studies, New Delhi
GirishKarnad, Playwright, Actor, Director
EAS Sarma, Former Secretary to the Govt. of India
Deep Joshi, PRADAN
KalpanaKannabiran, Council for Social Development, Hyderabad
Nikhil Dey, MazdoorKisan Shakti Sangathan
TeestaSetalvad, Citizens for Justice and Peace
Ram Puniyani, All India Secular Forum
Pamela Philipose, Senior Journalist
Harsh Mander, Centre for Equity Studies
Bezwada Wilson, SafaiKarmchariAndolan
Nandita Das, Actor, Writer, Director
and many more.
Disclaimer: The views expressed here are the author's personal views, and do not necessarily represent the views of Newsclick.