Opposition parties seek scrutiny of electoral reforms bill

The Bill proposes to allow Election Commission officials to seek Aadhaar details of registered voters on a voluntary basis and make the language of the Representation of the People Act gender-neutral
Union law minister Kiren Rijiju speaks in the Lok Sabha during the winter session of Parliament in New Delhi on Monday. (PTI)
Union law minister Kiren Rijiju speaks in the Lok Sabha during the winter session of Parliament in New Delhi on Monday. (PTI)
Published on Dec 21, 2021 11:05 AM IST
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Opposition parties have demanded further scrutiny of contentious provisions of the Election Laws (Amendment) Bill, which was passed in the Lok Sabha by a voice vote hours after law minister Kiren Rijiju tabled the proposed law in the Lower House on Monday.

The Bill proposes to allow Election Commission officials to seek Aadhaar details of registered voters on a voluntary basis and make the language of the Representation of the People Act gender-neutral. The bill is scheduled to be tabled in Rajya Sabha on Tuesday.

Congress lawmaker Adhir Ranjan Chowdhury called the bill an infringement upon the fundamental rights of privacy enunciated by the Supreme Court. “It will lead to mass disenfranchisement.” He said the use of Aadhaar authentication was solely permitted for welfare programmes and to link PAN cards.

All India Majlis-e-Ittehadul Muslimeen lawmaker Asaduddin Owaisi accused the Centre of curtailing the autonomy of the Election Commission. “The linking of IDs and Aadhaar violates the fundamental rights...Subjecting voter enrolment to Aadhaar violates the independent sanctity of the constitutional process.”

Trinamool Congress lawmaker Saugata Roy cited the Supreme Court ruling and accused the Central government of interfering with the affairs of the Election Commission.

Congress Member of Parliament Shashi Tharoor argued Aadhaar is only meant to be proof of residence. ‘It is not proof of citizenship. If you are...asking Aadhaar for voters, all you are getting is a document that reflects residence, not citizenship. You are potentially giving the vote to non-citizens.”

Rijiju called the arguments against the bill unfound and added the Supreme Court’s judgment was being misinterpreted.

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Monday, July 04, 2022