Lok Sabha passes Bill to link electoral roll data with Aadhaar system

A Bill to link electoral roll data with Aadhaar ecosystem and bring other poll reforms was passed by Lok Sabha on Monday after a brief debate and amid demand by the opposition to refer it to a standing committee.

The Election Laws (Amendment) Bill 2021, piloted by Law Minister Kiren Rijiju, was passed by a voice vote with opposition members claiming that the move to link electoral roll with Aadhaar number would violate privacy and could even allow non-citizens to vote.

“So, if you are in a position where you are asking Aadhaar for voters, all you are getting is a document that reflects residence. It does not reflect any proof of citizenship. Therefore, you are potentially giving the right to vote to non-citizens,” Congress member Shashi Tharoor said in Lok Sabha.

Besides linking electoral roll to Aadhaar, the Bill also seeks to make the statutes gender neutral by substituting the term ‘wife’ with ‘spouse’ to allow husbands of service voters to cast their vote from the place where their wives are posted. It also seeks to provide four qualifying dates -- January 1, April 1, July 1 and October 1 -- in a year for registration of voters, instead of a single qualifying date -- January 1.

The Bill was introduced after 12 noon and passed amid din by 3:10 pm. Opposition members slammed the government for rushing the bill through parliamentary process in a “tearing hurry” and demanded that it be referred to a standing committee.