Every Voter ID Will Be Linked With Aadhaar? Govt Passes Bill, Opposition Not Happy
The Election Laws (Amendment) Bill, 2021 has been passed which would link electoral rolls with Aadhaar.
It will empower electoral registration officers to ask people wanting to register as voters for their Aadhaar number to establish their identity.
What Is Its Purpose?
The aim of the bill is to “purify electoral rolls” of voters and for authentication of entries by interlinking Aadhaar numbers with voter ID numbers.
The cleansing mentioned here refers to solving the problem of multiple enrolments of the same person at different places and thereby “cleaning” the voters’ list to a great extent.
This tends to happen due to a person changing their residences and enrolling in the new place without deleting the previous enrollment.
The utility of Aadhaar linkage is that the electoral roll data system will instantly alert the existence of previous registration(s) whenever a person applies for new registration.
It will also consequently reduce electoral malpractices.
Union Law Minister Kiren Rijiju, who introduced the bill, clarified that Aadhaar and voter ID linking is voluntary and not compulsory.
Also to note is that applications will not be rejected if the Aadhaar number has not been provided.
Opposition: Rights Violation
The bill was passed within just 20 minutes of its introduction despite opposition from Congress which demanded that it be sent to the Standing Committee.
Leader of Congress in Lok Sabha Adhir Ranjan Chowdhury asked for the bill to be sent to the Standing Committee due to legal drawbacks.
He said that it is “against the Supreme Court verdict and one which violates our privacy”.
It might also “strip off lakhs of people of their electoral rights.”
Rijiju responded by saying that the proposals that are part of the bill were suggested and recommended by the Standing Committee of Law and Personnel itself.
Opposition: Aadhaar Not Proof Of Citizenship
Congress MP Shashi Tharoor said that Aadhaar is only supposed to be proof of residence and not of citizenship.
Getting the Aadhaar number of voters will merely serve as proof of their residence and not citizenship, because of which the vote could potentially be given to non-citizens.
Other opposing parties also claimed that the bill violates citizens’ Constitutional rights to privacy.
Opposition: Privacy Violation, Abuse Of Power
This is a concern due to a possible compromise of individual privacy if the voters’ lists are seeded into the Aadhaar’s ecosystem.
YSR Congress MP Lavu Devarayalu spoke about a similar experiment in Andhra Pradesh which resulted in the disenfranchisement of 3 million voters.
This could potentially become a tool for the government to look into the voting habits of citizens.
Another grim possibility is the violation of secret ballot and universal adult franchise in breach of Supreme Court rulings.