The Election Laws (Amendment) Bill, 2021 was passed in the Rajya Sabha on Tuesday, 21 December, a day after the Lok Sabha gave its nod to the controversial bill.
The bill, which seeks to amend the Representation of the People Act, provides for the linking of voter IDs with Aadhaar on a voluntary basis, "for the purposes of authentication of entries in electoral roll."
Opposition members, who have contested the bill, have insisted that the legislation will infringe upon the privacy of the voters and potentially give voting privileges to non-citizens.
What Does the Bill Propose?
The Election Laws (Amendment) Bill, 2021 proposes that the electoral registration officers can ask for the Aadhaar number of people trying to register as voters, in order to establish their identity.
"The electoral registration officer may for the purpose of establishing the identity of any person require that such person may furnish the Aadhaar number given by the Unique Identification Authority of India as per the provisions of the Aadhaar (Targeted Delivery of Financial and Other Subsidies, Benefits and Services) Act, 2016."The Election Laws (Amendment) Bill, 2021
The bill will also allow officers to ask for Aadhaar numbers from “persons already included in the electoral roll for the purposes of authentication of entries in the electoral roll, and to identify registration of the name of the same person in the electoral roll of more than one constituency or more than once in the same constituency."
Why Has the Opposition Protested Against the Bill?
The Opposition has contended that allowing the linkage of Aadhaar card to the voter ID would enable non-Indian citizens to cast votes in the elections.
Declaring his opposition to the bill, Congress MP Shashi Tharoor had said in the Lok Sabha on Monday:
"Aadhaar is only meant to be proof of residence, it's not a proof of citizenship. If you're in a position asking Aadhaar for voters, all you're getting is a document that reflects residence, not citizenship. You're potentially giving the vote to non-citizens."
Meanwhile, Leader of Congress in the Lok Sabha Adhir Ranjan Chowdhury had recommended for the bill to be sent to a Parliamentary Standing Committee.
“It is against the Supreme Court verdict and one which violates our privacy. This might strip off lakhs of people of their electoral rights,” he had added.