The Election Laws (Amendment) Bill, 2021 that aims to give effect to the long-pending electoral reforms including linking Aadhaar with the voter ID card was passed in the Lok Sabha amid din on Monday, with the Opposition members strongly opposing the bill and asking the government to take it back.
The Bill was passed through a voice vote while several Opposition members, standing in the well of the House, were sloganeering. The Bill was introduced in Lok Sabha in the morning. At the time of the introduction of the Bill, the opposition members spoke against the Bill.
Opposing the introduction of the Bill, Congress leader Adhir Ranjan Chowdhury said, “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 that this Bill should be referred to the standing committee,” he said.
Another Congress member Manish Tewari said that the Bill is “beyond” the legislative “competence” of the government. This will cause great harm to the democracy of India, he said.
Tewari said, “The Aaadhar Act does not allow for the linking of Aadhaar with the electoral roll. The Aadhar Act is very explicit. It is an act which is for the targeted delivery of financial and other subsidy benefits and services.”
“Voting is a legal right… Therefore, the Aadhaar act is beyond the legislative competence of this Bill. Therefore, we oppose the introduction of this Bill,” Tewari said.
AIMIM MP Asaduddin Owaisi also opposed the introduction of Bill.
“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 in Puttaswamy [case],” Owaisi said, demanding division on the leave to introduce the Bill in the House.
TMC member Sougata Roy also opposed the introduction of the Bill and said it is against the Supreme Court judgment in the Puttaswamy case.
“Besides, the Central Government is interfering with the Election Commission. The Prime Minister’s secretary wrote a letter to the Chief Election Commissioner,” Roy said.
BSP member Ritesh Pandey also opposed the introduction of the Bill. This Bill violates the rights of people to vote, Pandey said.
RSP member NK Premachandran said that linking electoral rolls with Aadhaar is definitely an infringement on the right to privacy and violates Article 21.
Congress member Shashi Tharoor said, “Aadhaar was only meant to be a proof of residence. It is not proof of citizenship. In our country, only citizens are allowed to vote.”
Law Minister Kiren Rijiju, who piloted the Bill, said that the opposition members’ arguments against introduction of the Bill are unfounded and they have misinterpreted the Supreme Court’s judgment.
“Neither they have understood the objective of the Bill correctly, nor their argument is right, Rijiju said, introducing the Bill amid din.
According to the Statement of Objects and Reasons of the Bill, it provides for amendment of section 23 of the RP Act, 1950, enabling for the linking of electoral roll data with the Aadhaar ecosystem to curb the menace of multiple enrolment of the same person in different places.
It also seeks to amend clause (b) of section 14 of the RP Act, 1950 specifying the 1st day of January, 1st day of April, 1st day of July and 1st day of October in a calendar year as qualifying dates in relation to the preparation or revision of electoral rolls.