‘Forcible’ Aadhaar-voter ID linking
About Election Laws (Amendment) Bill, 2021:
- The Election Laws (Amendment) Bill, 2021 was introduced in the Lok Sabha on 20th December, 2021. The Bill amends the Representation of the People Act, 1950 and the Representation of the People Act, 1951 to implement certain electoral reforms.
- It provides for amendment of section 23 of the Representation of People’s Act, 1950, enabling the linking of electoral roll data with the Aadhaar ecosystem.
- The Bill aims to curb the menace of multiple enrolment of the same person in different places and stopping bogus voting and fraudulent votes.
- The Bill aims to provide four qualifying dates for enrolment in the electoral roll in a calendar year, which will be January 1, April 1, July 1, and October 1. Currently one must enrol on or before January 1 of every year.
- The 1951 Act enables the wife of a person holding a service qualification to vote either in person or by postal ballot. The Bill replaces the term ‘wife’ with ‘spouse’ in both the Acts.
What are the concerns?
- The Supreme Court in 2015 held that “the Aadhaar card Scheme is purely voluntary”.
- The Bill allows electoral registration officers to ask for Aadhaar numbers of applicants wanting to register as voters to establish the identity of the applicant. Hence, lack of Aadhaar can be used as a reason for Mass Disenfranchisement.
- There are reports of instances of people being warned by booth-level officers that their voter ID would be cancelled if the linking is not done.
- The Union Law and Justice Ministry recently amended Form 6, and introduced Form 6B to the Registration of Electors Rules, 1960 which make it compulsory for those who have Aadhaar to provide their Aadhaar numbers in order to vote.
What has the government said?
- The government has reiterated that “Submission of Aadhaar number in Form 6B is voluntary. No entry in electoral roll shall be deleted on the ground of non-submission of Aadhaar number. Purpose of obtaining Aadhaar number is for authentication of electors’ entries in electoral roll & extending better electoral services,”.
Source The Hindu
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