March 25, 2023

Rajya Sabha passes electoral reforms bill by voice vote amid opposition walkout | India News – Times of India

NEW DELHI: Amid a walkout by opposition and dramatic scenes, a bill to link electoral roll data with the Aadhaar ecosystem was passed by Parliament on Tuesday concluding the parliamentary process involved in the legislation that will now become the law once it receives the President’s assent. The Rajya Sabha approved the bill by a voice vote, within a space of an hour, a day after it was passed by Lok Sabha.
TMC’s Derek O‘Brien flung a rulebook at the reporters’ table after which the TMC MP was suspended from the House for “unruly behaviour”. The hour-long discussion on the bill continued amid protests by opposition members who also stormed into the well shouting slogans. They demanded that the bill be sent to a select committee and, once that was rejected, they staged a walkout.

Responding to criticism of the Election Laws (Amendment) Bill, 2021, law minister Kiren Rijiju said in “our democracy, the electoral process should be cleansed and that can happen only if the electoral rolls are clean”. Describing the reform as a “revolutionary step”, Rijiju asserted that linking of electoral rolls to the Aadhaar number is only voluntary and not compulsory. He said this will will help end fake and bogus voting and add to the credibility of the electoral process. The bill has other features like allowing multiple dates for voter registration in a year.
The bill seeks to allow electoral registration officers to seek the Aadhaar number of people who want to register as voters with the government arguing that the ID will help control fraud and duplicate registrations. It would also make transfer and deletion of voters’ names easier.
Underlining that the linkage is voluntary, the amendment bill also states that “no application for inclusion of name in the electoral roll shall be denied and no entries in the electoral roll shall be deleted for inability of an individual to furnish or intimate Aadhaar number due to such sufficient cause as may be prescribed”.

Rijiju said the opposition members were “misinterpreting” the Supreme Court’s judgement on personal liberty. “There is no basis of your opposition to the bill. The Election Commission and government have held many meetings and the EC’s biggest concern is that the same person has name in multiple electoral rolls and there is no other system to check this,” he said. He also said every Indian above 18 years can get their name included in the voters list and they will get four occasions in a year to register themselves with the EC.
Members of BJP, BJD, AIADMK, JD(U), YSRCP and TDP said it will help in eradicating duplicate and fake voters from electoral rolls.
Members of Congress, TMC, DMK, CPI-M, CPI, Samajwadi Party, RJD, AAP and NCP walked out from the House in protest. They earlier opposed the bill saying it infringes on voters’ right to privacy and goes against the Supreme Court judgement. Leader of Opposition Mallikarjun Kharge and CPI-M member John Brittas demanded division on the motion to send the bill to the select committee. They said that not allowing it was against the rules.

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