NEW DELHI: Observing that the Supreme Court, while delivering its verdict in the Aadhaar case, had not extensively examined and substantially discussed interpretation of Article 110 of the Constitution which defines a money bill, the court referred the issue to a seven-judge bench for an authoritative ruling.
A five-judge constitution bench of CJI Ranjan Gogoi and Justices N V Ramana, D Y Chandrachud, Deepak Gupta and Sanjiv Khanna on Wednesday said any interpretation of a money bill will have far-reaching consequences and, “it is therefore necessary that there should be absolute clarity with regard to the provisions and any ambiguity and debate should be ironed out and affirmatively decided.”
The court’s view will be important as it can also reflect on the role of the presiding officer of Lok Sabha or an assembly — so far held as final — in deciding whether a legislation is a money bill.
It said the majority judgment in the Aadhaar case, which upheld the Centre’s decision to introduce the Aadhaar Act as a money bill, did not elucidate and explain the scope and ambit of sub-clauses (a) to (f) to clause (1) of Article 110 and this needed a comprehensive examination.
“The issue and question of money bill, as defined under Article 110(1) of the Constitution, and certification accorded by the Speaker of Lok Sabha in respect of Part-XIV of the Finance Act, 2017 (under which rules were framed for regulation of tribunals) is referred to a larger bench,” the court said.
“In the context of Article 110(1) of the Constitution, use of the word ‘only’ in relation to sub-clauses (a) to (f) pose an interesting, albeit a difficult question which was not examined and answered by the majority judgment in K S Puttaswamy (Aadhaar case). While it may be easier to decipher a bill relating to imposition, abolition, remission, alteration or regulation of any tax, difficulties would arise in the interpretation of Article 110(1) specifically with reference to sub-clauses (b) to (f) in a bill relating to borrowing of money or giving of any guarantee by the government of India, or an amendment of law concerning financial obligation,” the bench said.
The court rejected the Centre’s plea that passage of bills in Parliament was exempted from judicial scrutiny. The bench said if such a blanket exemption were to be granted, then it would open floodgates to deviation from any constitutional provision governing the functioning of Parliament and its legislative procedure.

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