Electoral reform bill to link Aadhaar, Voter ID gets Rajya Sabha approval
A bill to link electoral roll data with the Aadhaar ecosystem and bring other poll reforms was passed by the Rajya Sabha through a voice vote amid a walkout by the opposition on Tuesday, a day after the Lok Sabha cleared.
The Rajya Sabha approved the Election Laws (Amendment) Bill, 2021, after members of the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), JD(U), YSRCP, AIADMK, BJD and TMC-M supported it, saying it will help in eradicating duplicate and fake voters from the electoral rolls.
However, members of opposition parties like the Congress, Trinamool Congress, Left parties, the DMK and the Nationalist Congress Party staged a walkout in protest.
The bill was passed in the Lok Sabha after a brief debate and amid the demand by the opposition to refer it to a standing committee.
The Election Laws (Amendment) Bill, 2021 seeks to allow electoral registration officers to seek the Aadhaar number of people who want to register as voters "for the purpose of establishing identity."
The bill also seeks to allow the electoral registration officers to get Aadhaar numbers from "persons already included in the electoral roll for the purposes of authentication of entries in the electoral roll, and to identify registration of the name of the same person in the electoral roll of more than one constituency or more than once in the same constituency.”
Mallikarjun Kharge, the Leader of Opposition in the Rajya Sabha, on Tuesday hit out at the Centre and said the Election Laws (Amendment) Bill, 2021, was passed without any "discussion or debate"; called it "mockery of democracy".
"Modi Govt has passed the Election Laws 2021 amendment bill without any discussion or debate. The bill is in violation of SC Puttaswamy judgement and will lead to mass disenfranchisement. How can it be passed WITHOUT any DISCUSSION or SCRUTINY? It's a mockery of our democracy!" Kharge said in a tweet before it was passed in the Upper House.
Also read | The Aadhaar-voter ID link
On Tuesday, the Centre said these reforms are needed as it gave a detailed overview of how the proposed changes will benefit the electoral system.
Registration in electoral rolls is done based on an application by a person who is eligible to be registered as a voter, people closely associated with the formulation of the legislation said. Under a provision of the bill, the new applicant may voluntarily provide Aadhaar number along with the application for the purpose of identity.
The people cited also said no application will be rejected on the grounds that Aadhaar number has not been provided, which Union law minister Kiren Rijiju said on Monday after the passage of the bill in the Lok Sabha.
They said Aadhaar linking with the electoral roll will root out multiple enrolments of the same person at different places. They also said once the Aadhaar linkage is achieved, the electoral roll data system will instantly alert the existence of previous registration whenever a person applies for new registration.
"This will help in cleaning the electoral roll to a great extent and facilitate elector registration in the location at which they are ‘ordinarily resident’."
On Monday, the Election Laws (Amendment) Bill 2021 was passed by voice vote barely hours after it was tabled by law minister Kiren Rijiju.