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Rajya Sabha Passes Electoral Reforms Bill, Opposition Stages Walkout

The Election Laws (Amendment) Bill, 2021, which was passed in Lok Sabha on Monday, seeks to weed out fake voters from electoral rolls.

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New Delhi: The parliament on Tuesday passed a Bill to link electoral roll data with the Aadhaar ecosystem with Rajya Sabha passing it by voice vote amidst a walkout by the Opposition.

The Election Laws (Amendment) Bill, 2021, which was passed in Lok Sabha on Monday, seeks to weed out fake voters from electoral rolls.

The Opposition parties were demanding a division of votes as they had moved a motion to send the Bill to a select committee, which was rejected by voice vote.

TMC member Derek O’Brien cited rules for a division of votes even as deputy chairman Harivansh urged members to go to their seats to enable the division.

However, Opposition members continued to raise slogans in the well. O’Brien threw the rule book on the table where officials sit and staged a walkout.

Ruling party members strongly condemned his behaviour.

Members of Congress, TMC, Left parties, DMK and NCP also walked out from the House in protest.

Members of BJP, JD(U), YSRCP, AIADMK, BJD and TMC-M supported the Bill, saying it will help in eradicating duplicate and fake voters from electoral rolls.

Earlier, Congress, TMC, CPI, CPI-M, DMK and Samajwadi Party opposed the Bill saying it infringes on voters’ right to privacy.

Terming the Bill “very good”, law minister Kiren Rijiju said the legislation will help end fake and bogus voting in the country and make the electoral process credible.

Dismissing the Opposition’s apprehensions about the Bill as “baseless”, the minister said the Opposition was “misinterpreting” the Supreme Court’s judgment on personal liberty.

“There is no basis of your opposition to the Bill. The Election Commission and the government have held many meetings and the EC’s biggest concern is that the same person has (his or her) name in multiple electoral rolls and there is no other system to check this,” Rijiju said.

“In our democracy, the electoral process should be clean and that can happen only if the electoral rolls are clean.

“This Bill will be opposed only by those who take advantage of fake voting. Otherwise, there is no basis for opposing this Bill,” he said.

Also read: The Election Commission Has Made the Constituent Assembly’s Worst Fears Come True

The Election Laws (Amendment) Bill, 2021, seeks to allow electoral registration officers to seek Aadhaar number of people who want to register as voters “for the purpose of establishing the identity”.

It also seeks to allow the electoral registration officers to ask for Aadhaar number from “persons already included in the electoral roll for the purposes of authentication of entries in electoral roll, and to identify registration of name of the same person in the electoral roll of more than one constituency or more than once in the same constituency”.

At the same time, the amendment Bill makes it clear that “no application for inclusion of name in the electoral roll shall be denied and no entries in the electoral roll shall be deleted for inability of an individual to furnish or intimate Aadhaar number due to such sufficient cause as may be prescribed”.

Such people will be allowed to furnish other alternative documents as may be prescribed.

(PTI)