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Election Laws (Amendment) Bill Introduced in Lok Sabha, allowing voter ID-Aadhaar linking

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Guwahati:  Union law minister Kiren Rijiju on Monday introduced in Lok Sabha the Election Laws (Amendment) Bill, which proposes to voluntarily link Aadhaar numbers to electoral rolls and make the language of the Representation of the People (RP) Act gender-neutral, even as Opposition parties slammed the government over the proposed law.

Congress lawmaker Adhir Ranjan Chowdhury opposed the Bill and said it should be referred to a standing committee for scrutiny. “Linking of Aadhaar numbers with the voter IDs will lead to mass disenfranchisement.”

In the drafts and objectives section of the Bill, the government called electoral reform an ongoing and continuous process. “The Central Government has been receiving proposals for electoral reforms from various quarters, from time to time, including the Election Commission of India,” it said. “Based on the proposals taken up by the Election Commission, it is proposed to amend the provisions of the RP Act, 1950 and the RP Act, 1951. Accordingly, a Bill, namely, the Election Laws (Amendment) Bill, 2021 has been proposed.”

Rajendra Agarwal, who was in the chair, accepted the introduction of the Election Laws (Amendment) Bill after taking voice votes, the report said.

Earlier, when the House met after the weekend break at 11 am, opposition members stormed into the Well and began protesting. Lok Sabha Speaker Om Birla urged members to maintain decorum and go back to their seats.

As the members refused to relent, the Speaker adjourned the House till noon after taking up a few questions.

The Bill proposes an amendment to Section 23 of the Representation of the People Act, 1950, allowing the linking of electoral roll data with the Aadhaar ecosystem to “curb the menace of multiple enrolments of the same person in different places”.

The Bill says no application for inclusion of a name in the electoral roll “shall be denied and no entries in the electoral roll shall be deleted for the inability of an individual to furnish or intimate Aadhaar number due to such sufficient cause as may be prescribed, provided that such individual may be allowed to furnish such other alternate documents as may be prescribed”.

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