Despite opposition parties’ misgivings, the Centre presented the Election Laws (Amendment Bill) 2021 on Monday to connect voter identities and Aadhaar cards. Justice Minister Kiren Rijiu rejected opposition lawmakers’ claims that the bill would infringe on people’s fundamental rights, saying the amendment was simply to prevent fake ballots.
While MPs from the Congress, DMK, and TMC stood in the Well of the House, yelling anti-government chants, Rijiju introduced the bill. While the DMK and lawmakers protested the detention of 55 Tamil fishermen by the Sri Lankan fleet, the TMC and several lawmakers called for the dismissal of union minister Ajay Mishra, in the Lahimpur Kheri case.
“The Bill is outside the House’s legislative competence since it breaches the Supreme Court’s constraints on legislation in Puttaswamy versus Union of India,” stated Congress leader Adhir Ranjan Chowdhury. “The linkage of voter IDs and Aadhaar breaches the basic right to privacy as established by the Supreme Court in the verdict,” his party colleague Manish Tiwari remarked. Noting that the data protection law had not yet been passed, Chowdhury proposed that it be referred to a standing committee.
To clarify the reasons for the bill, the Attorney General said opposition lawmakers misinterpreted the Supreme Court’s ruling. If the bill passes into law, AIMIM’s Assemblyman Assaduddin Owasi said the government could use the information to “deprive certain individuals and key citizens of their rights.” TMC MP Saugato Rai said, “Aadhar is for the people, but the citizens can vote. BSP’s Ritesh Pandey also objected to the bill. According to the NK Premachandrana, the right to privacy is a fundamental right and Congress has to enact laws limiting it. Shashi Tharoor also questioned whether the measure would give non-citizens the right to vote because Aadhaar is merely proof of residency. Because of the disturbances, the Speaker had to adjourn the question hour from 11.45 p.m. to 12 p.m.
The Bill intends to “curb the threat of multiple enrolling of the same individual in different areas,” according to the declaration of purposes and reasons. Once the Bill becomes law, the first days of January, April, July, and October will be the qualifying dates for the production or updating of electoral records. “The substitution of the term “broad” with the word “spouse” in Section 20 of the Representation of the People’s Act 1950 and Section 60 of the RP Act 1951, making the statutes gender neutral,” it said.