Andalib Akhter / NEW DELHI
The Bill is to pave the way for linkage of electoral roll data with the AADHAAR ecosystem was approved by parliament today. The Election Laws (Amendment) Bill with the Rajya Sabha approved the Bill amid protest by opposition memebers. The Upper House passed this legislation amid the walkout by the opposition members. Lok Sabha had passed this bill on Monday. The bill provides linking of Aadhar numbers with electoral rolls besides giving four opportunities to enroll in a calendar year as a voter upon attaining 18 years of age. Apart from this, it has provisions of gender neutrality with regard to service voters and to enable the requisition of any premises for election purposes.
Speaking about the Bill, Law and Justice Minister Kiren Rijiju termed it revolutionary legislation and it is the need of the hour. He said it will check the bogus voters and multiple entries in the electoral roll and help ensuring fair elections. He questioned the opposition’s apprehensions to the bill saying it has been brought to make the voter list transparent and fair. Mr. Rijiju added that Aadhar card will only be used for identification and age purpose by the returning officer.
During the debate, Opposition parties questioned the intent of the bill and the way it was brought in the Upper House. Ami Yagnik of Congress said this bill is in violation of people’s right to privacy and will exploit the people from disadvantaged sections. Prof. Ram Gopal Yadav termed the legislation as draconian. M M Abdulla of DMK also opposed the bill. Derek O’Brien of TMC said the members were not given enough time to go through the bill and no proper notice was given in the Business Advisory Committee. Deputy Chairman Harivansh clarified that the members were informed about it.
Supporting the Bill, Sushil Modi of BJP alleged that Congress, TMC, and Left are opposing the bill to shield bogus voters. He wondered over the objection to the bill saying the Congress, TMC, and others had supported the legislation in the Standing Committee. He said, it is clearly mentioned in the bill that Aadhar linking with voter identity card d is voluntary. A. Navaneethakrishnan of AIADMK and Sujeet Kumar of BJD supported the bill along with Ram Nath Thakur of JD(U). Some other members including K Ravindra Kumar of TDP also spoke on the bill.
Before staging a walkout, TMC MP Derek O’Brien threw the Rule Book at the table of the House after raising a Point of Order on demands for division of votes on the Bill when it was not allowed. Union Minister Piyush Goyal termed the incident as an insult to the House as well as the whole country. Another Minister Bhupender Yadav also objected to the conduct of the TMC MP.
According to government the will address the menace of multiple enrolments of the same person in electoral rolls at different places. Besides this, the legislation gives four opportunities to enroll in a calendar year as a voter upon attaining 18 years of age. Earlier it was confined to once on the 1st of January of every year. Now it will be the 1st day of the month of January, April, July, and 1st day of October. Apart from all these specifications, the Bill has provisions of gender neutrality in regard to service voters. It also enables the requisition of any premises for election purposes.