The Election Laws (Amendment) Bill, 2021 was passed in the Lok Sabha on Monday, while the opposition members strongly opposed the bill and urged the government to take it back.
The Bill, passed through a voice vote aims at giving the effect to the pending electoral reforms which includes linking Aadhaar with the Voter ID card. The members of the opposition parties chanted slogans, pressuring the government to take the bill back.
The Bill was presented in the Lok Sabha by Law Minister Kiren Rijiju. The central government assured that these reforms are needed and also gave a detailed overview of how the changes proposed by the government will benefit the electoral system.
However, the members of the opposition party, Congress opposed the bill. Congress leader Adhir Ranjan Chowdhury said that the bill will lead to mass disenfranchisement.
“I do oppose the introduction of the Bill under The Election Laws (Amendment) Bill, 2021 and simultaneously demanding that the legislative document should be referred to the concerned standing committee for further scrutiny given the fact that this is an infringement on the fundamental right of privacy as enunciated by the Supreme Court. It will lead to mass disenfranchisement. That’s why we are demanding this bill should be referred to the standing committee.”Adhir Ranjan Chowdhury
The Bill was also opposed by AIMIM MP Asaduddin Owaisi.
“This Bill is outside the legislative competence of this house and violates the limits on legislation set by the Supreme Court in Puttaswamy case. The linking of voter ID with Aadhaar violates the fundamental right of privacy defined.”Asaduddin Owaisi
Shashi Tharoor of Congress also opposed the Bill.
He said “Aadhaar was only meant to be a proof of residence. It is not a proof of citizenship. In our country only citizens are allowed to vote.”
Law Minister Kiren Rijiju said that the arguments of opposition members against introduced of the Bill are completely unfounded.
Provisions of the Election Laws (Amendment) Bill, 2021
- The Bill seeks to allow electoral registration officers to seek the Aadhaar number of people who want to register as voters for the identity identification purpose.
- The Bill says that no application for inclusion of name in the electoral roll shall be denied and no entries in the electoral roll shall be deleted for inability of an individual to furnish or intimate Aadhaar number due to such sufficient cause as may be prescribed. Such people will be allowed to show other documents as may be prescribed.
- The Statement of Objects and Reasons of the Bill states that Section 23 of the RP Act will be amended to allow linking of electoral roll data with the Aadhaar ecosystem to curb the menace of multiple enrolment of the same person in different places.
- The Bill proposes to amend the Section 14 of the RP Act which will allow the eligible people to have four “qualifying” dates to register as voters. As of now, January 1 of every year is the sole qualifying date. People who turn 18 on or before January 1 can register as voters. Those turning 18 after that have to wait for one whole year to register as voters.
- The Amendment to Section 20 of the RP Act, 1950 and Section 60 of the RP Act, 1951 will make the elections gender neutral. The word “wife” would be replaced by the word “spouse” to make the statuses “gender neutral”.