BREAKING: Parliament Passes Election Laws Amendment Bill to Allow Aadhaar – Voter ID Linkage

Team SoOLEGAL 22 Dec 2021 3:20pm

BREAKING: Parliament Passes Election Laws Amendment Bill to Allow Aadhaar – Voter ID Linkage

NEW DELHI: The Rajya Sabha passed the Election Laws (Amendment) Bill, 2021 on Tuesday (December 21st, 2021), which seeks to integrate the Voter Identity Card with Aadhaar. After a discussion that began at 2:00 PM, the house passed the measure by voice vote about 3:15 PM. The bill was passed by Lok Sabha Yesterday.

The bill proposes to alter sections of the representation of the People’s Act, 1950 and Representation of the People’s Act, 1951 to provide extra voting qualifying days, make voting for service voters’ gender – neutral, and integrates Aadhaar with electoral records. It was tabled in Lok Sabha yesterday and cleared the same day after a quick debate lasting less than ten minutes.

The Bill includes the following provision:
“The Electoral registration officer may for the purpose of establishing the identity of any person require that such person may furnish the Adhaar number given by the Unique Identification Authority of India as per the provisions of the Aadhaar (Targeted Delivery of Financial and other Subsidies, Benefits and Services) Act, 2016.”

During yesterday’s Lok Sabha debate on the bill, Union Law Minister Kiren Rijiju described the relationship as “voluntary, not required”.

The following clause is included in the Bill:
“No application for inclusion of name in the electoral roll shall be denied and no entries in the electoral roll shall be deleted for the inability of an individual to furnish or intimate Aadhaar number due to such sufficient cause as may be prescribed: Provided that such individual may be allowed to furnish such other alternate documents as may be prescribed.”

Opposition MP’s expressed their concerns in the house today about the way in which the bill was introduced, as well as the plan to link Aadhaar with voting rights, claiming that it would be antithetical to the Puttuswamy verdict and the proportionality test. MP Sujit Kumar of the Biju Janata Dal underlined his party’s worry over the idea to link Aadhaar and election registers, noting that there is a ‘risk of exploitation of the provision’.

“If the purpose is to establish identity then Aadhaar number can be linked to Voter ID why link the entire Aadhaar database?” he asked the minister. Further, he added,
“The linkage will allow profiling and disenfranchisement of voters on the margins of the society like migrant workers…if the provision is misused it may allow target political advertisement…the Bill is especially concerning in the absence of Data Protection Law.”

Kumar further stated that while election data and voting trends will be available to the party in power under this clause, “it should be provided to all parties to establish a fair playing field.”

Responding to Kumar and other members of the House, Law Minister Kiren Rijiju stated that the suggestion to link Aadhaar with Voter IDs came from the Election Commission of India and Joint Parliamentary Committee reports. Furthermore, Mr. Rijiju stated that the country was experiencing multiple cases of fake votes in the lack of “any system in place to screen out spurious voters.”

“Only those who make use of fake voters will oppose the Bill. If one is a genuine voter, then there is no need to oppose the bill,” he added.

Mr. Rijiju reiterated his views made in the Lok Sabha yesterday, saying that the bill met the three parameters put down in the Puttuswamy decision for lawfully intruding on individuals’ right to privacy.

“In Puttuswamy case, Supreme Court has clarified that any infringement of privacy must have a basis in a statute, there must be legitimate state interest and that the test of proportionality must be satisfied…that is being done in this case. The test of proportionality is satisfies because the electoral officer will only use it (Aadhaar) to establish the identity of the persons…the database will be with the Election Commission of India and will not be in the public domain.”

Despite appeals from certain members for a division of votes, the house approved the bill by voice vote, ensuring that votes are recorded as a permanent record.

Tagged: Election Laws Amendment Bill   Voter ID Linkage   Aadhaar Card   Rajya Sabha   Voter Identity Card   Union Law Minister Kiren Rijiju  
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