The Centre on Monday introduced the Election Laws (Amendment Bill) 2021 to link the Aadhar-Voter card, despite objections by the Opposition parties over the move.
Law Minister Kiren Rijiju, while rejecting the Opposition MPs’ statements that the Bill would violate the fundamental rights of citizens, clarified that the Amendment was only meant to stop bogus and fraudulent voting.
Rijiju introduced the bill even as MPs from the Congress, DMK, and TMC were standing in the Well of the House, shouting slogans against the government. While DMK and Congress MPs were protesting against the arrest of 55 Tamil fishermen by the Sri Lankan navy, the TMC and other Congress MPs demanded the sacking of Union Minister Ajay Mishra over his son’s involvement in the Lakhimpur Kheri violence.
“The Bill is outside the legislative competence of the House as it violates the limits on legislation set by the Supreme Court in its judgment (Puttaswamy vs Union of India),” Congress leader Adhir Ranjan Chowdhury said. His party colleague Manish Tiwari added, “The linking of voter IDs and Aadhaar violates the fundamental right to privacy as defined by the Supreme Court in the judgment.”
Chowdhury, while pointing out that the Data Protection Law is yet to be in place, added that the Bill should be sent to the standing committee
The Law Minister, trying to explain the motive of the Bill, added that the Opposition MPs had misinterpreted the Top Court’s verdict.
AIMIM MP Asaduddin Owaisi said that if the Bill becomes an Act, the government would be able to use the details for “disenfranchising some people and profile the citizens”.
Centre introduces Bill for Aadhar-voter card linking
“Aadhar is for residents, voting right is for citizens,” TMC MP Saugato Ray said. BSP’s Ritesh Pandey also opposed the introduction of the Bill.
N K Premachandran pointed out that the right to privacy is a fundamental right and the Parliament cannot pass a law that curtails it. Shashi Tharoor also asked whether the move wouldn’t potentially give voting rights to non-citizens as Aadhaar is just a proof of residence.
The Speaker had to adjourn the question hour abruptly from 11.45 pm till 12 noon because of the disruptions.
According to the statement of objects and reasons, the Bill aims to “curb the menace of multiple enrolments of the same person in different places”. The qualifying dates in relation to the preparation or revision of electoral rolls will be the first days of January, April, July, and October once the Bill becomes an act. “The Amendment of Section 20 of the Representation of the People’s Act 1950 and Section 60 of the RP Act 1951 for substitution of the word “wide” with the word “spouse” making the statues gender-neutral,” it added.
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