Election Laws Amendment Bill 2021 Explained: Is it mandatory to link Aadhaar card with voter ID
New Delhi, Dec 20: 'The Election Laws (Amendment) Bill, 2021' that seeks four changes in the electoral law, inluding linking of Aadhaar to the voter identity card, was passed in the Lok Sabha today, amid the Opposition protest.
The Opposition claims the bill may be could play into the hands of non-citizens, who can take advantage of the law and vote by just showing Aadhaar.
While opposing the bill Shashi Tharoor said "Aadhaar was meant to be proof of residence, not citizenship. If you are asking for an Aadhar card from the voter, all you get is a document that reflects residence. You are potentially giving voting rights to non-citizens."
Many opposition parties Congress, DMK, Nationalist Congress Party, Trinamool Congress, Shiv Sena, BSP opposed the Election Laws (Amendment) Bill, while the the YSR Congress sought scrutiny and debate on the bill.
Biju Janata Dal led by Naveen Patnaik's Biju Janata Dal was unhappy with the way the bill was introduced and passed.
Let us have a look at 'The Election Laws (Amendment) Bill, 2021' that seeks four major reforms in the electoral reforms.
Firstly, the bill seeks to link the electoral roll with Aadhaar on a voluntary basis to root out multiple enrolments. However, the bill makes it clear 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
Secondly, even after 18 years, the system says that one has to wait a whole year to exercise their voting rights if they couldn't register on Jan 1 (of the year of revision of electoral roll). The passage of electoral bill gives 4 qualifying dates a year to register as voters.
As of now, January 1 of every year is the sole qualifying date. Now, "the 1st day of January, 1st day of April, 1st day of July and 1st day of October in a calendar year" will be the qualifying dates in relation to the preparation or revision of electoral rolls.
Thirdly, the bill proposes to replace the word "wife" with "spouse" to make the act (Representation of the People Act of 1951) gender-neutral. An Armyman's wife is entitled to be enrolled as a service voter, but a woman Army officer's husband is not, according to provisions in the electoral law. With "wife" being replaced by the term "spouse", this will change.
Lastly, the bill empowers the authorities with all the powers required to take over any premises for the conduct of elections. There were some objections to taking over schools and other important institutions during the period of elections.
So, Is it mandatory to link Aadhaar card with voter ID?
Since 2015, the election commission has been pushing for Voluntary linking of Aadhaar and Voter ID. Hence, it launched, the National Electoral Law Purification and Authentication Programme to link the Aadhaar number with the voter ID number.
However, Supreme Court order on Aadhaar had put the brakes on the EC's project to link UIDAI (Aadhaar) number with voters' electoral data to check multiple entries in electoral rolls.
The top court suggested that sanction of law is required to collect Aadhaar number, and hence, the commission proposed changes in electoral law. If approved by the Parliament, it may become mandatory to link election ID with Aadhaar.