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Rajya Sabha passes Election Laws Amendment Bill, 2021 amid opposition walk out

By Saima Siddiqui 
Updated Date

New Delhi: The Rajya Sabha on Tuesday passed the ‘Election Laws (Amendment) Bill 2021’ – that provides linking electoral roll data with the Aadhaar ecosystem, amid opposition walk out. The Bill was cleared by Lok Sabha on Monday after a brief debate.

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The opposition wanted the Bill to be referred to a standing committee. However, the central government rejected this demand.

Leader of Opposition in Rajya Sabha Mallikarjun Kharge criticised the Centre saying that the Election Laws 2021 amendment bill was passed without any “discussion or debate”. He called it a “mockery of democracy”.

Taking to Twitter, Kharge said, “Modi Govt has passed the Election Laws 2021 amendment bill without any discussion or debate. The bill is in violation of SC Puttaswamy judgement and will lead to mass disenfranchisement. How can it be passed WITHOUT any DISCUSSION or SCRUTINY? It’s a mockery of our democracy!”

Sources in the government said the Bill would solve the “major problem” of multiple enrolment of the same person at different places and help in “cleaning” the voters’ list to a great extent.

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The Bill incorporates various electoral reforms which have been discussed for a long time. The government sources shared a 2018 statement of the Election Commission following a meeting of all recognised national and regional parties on various electoral reforms.

“Political parties urged the commission to link Aadhaar numbers with electors’ detail for better electoral roll management,” the EC had then said.

Registration in the electoral roll is done based on an application by a person who is eligible to be registered as a voter and this bill has a provision whereby the new applicant may voluntarily provide the Aadhaar number along with the application for the purpose of identity, government sources said.

No application will be rejected on the grounds that Aadhaar number has not been provided, the sources added.

Aadhaar linking with electoral roll will solve “one of the major problems” in electoral database management which is multiple enrolment of the same person at different places, they said.

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This may be due to the frequent shifting of residence by electors and getting enrolled in the new place without deleting the previous enrolment, the sources noted.

Thus, the possibility of electors whose names appear in more than one electoral roll or at times more than once in the same electoral roll can be removed, they said.

Once Aadhaar linkage is achieved, the electoral roll data system will instantly alert the existence of previous registration(s) whenever a person applies for new registration, the sources said.

This will help in “cleaning” the electoral roll to a great extent and facilitate voter registration in the location at which they are ‘ordinarily resident,’ the sources added.

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