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Electoral reform bill linking voter ID with Aadhaar approved in Rajya Sabha; opposition walks out

Electoral reform bill linking voter ID with Aadhaar approved in Rajya Sabha; opposition walks out

Electoral reform bill linking voter ID with Aadhaar approved in Rajya Sabha; opposition walks out
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By CNBCTV18.com Dec 21, 2021 9:30:12 PM IST (Updated)

The Election Laws (Amendment) Bill, 2021, would allow electoral registration officers to seek the Aadhaar number of those who want to register as voters. The bill, which was passed in the Lok Sabha by a voice vote following a brief discussion on Monday, was approved in the Rajya Sabha by voice vote after the opposition staged a walkout.

The Election Laws (Amendment) Bill, 2021, was passed by the Rajya Sabha today, paving the way for the Bill to become law. The bill was approved through a voice vote amid a walkout by the opposition. The bill is aimed at linking the electoral rolls with the Aadhaar ecosystem with an aim to weed out duplication of voters, as well curbing election fraud.

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The bill was passed by Lok Sabha on Monday. It seeks to allow electoral registration officers to seek the Aadhaar number of those  who want to register as voters "for the purpose of establishing the identity".
The bill makes it clear that "no application ... shall be denied and no entries in the electoral roll shall be deleted for inability of an individual to furnish or intimate Aadhaar number".

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The bill was passed after an hour-long discussion  amid protests by members of opposition parties, who flooded the well, raising slogans. TMC MP Derek O'Brien cited rules for division of votes even as Deputy Chairman Harivansh urged the 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. He was joined by members of the Congress, TMC, CPI-M, CPI, DMK, RJD, Samajwadi Party, AAP and NCP, as their demand for sending the bill to a select committee was rejected. They earlier opposed the bill, saying it infringes on voters' right to privacy and goes against the Supreme Court judgement. 
Ruling party members strongly condemned his behaviour. O'Brien was later suspended for the remainder of the session for his unruly behaviour, after a motion by the government in this regard was passed unanimously. The Chair also condemned his behaviour.


Union Law Minister Kiren Rijiju said the bill was necessary for the electoral rolls to be clean, which will in turn ensure that the election process is clean.  "Aadhaar card linking to electoral rolls would not be mandatory, but voluntary. It's good for an eligible common man," Rijiju said, adding, "The bill has been discussed in detail with the Election Commission and the Law Ministry, keeping the pros/cons & Parliamentary Standing Committee's recommendation in mind. Everyone's supporting it, only one or two people want to make it a controversial issue."
Earlier, Anand Sharma and O'Brien alleged that the bill was being brought in haste and in an undemocratic manner. The TMC leader alleged the bill was being passed in the same manner as the controversial farm laws were.
Leader of Opposition Mallikarjun Kharge and CPI-M member John Brittas demanded division on the motion to send the bill to select committee, and said not allowing it was against the rules. BJP member Sushil Kumar Modi said some opposition members Deepinder Hooda, Vivek Tankha, Sukhendu Sekhar Ray (TMC) were part of the parliamentary standing committee which unanimously recommended that Aadhaar be linked to the electoral rolls.
"The truth is that the Congress and TMC have got lakhs of bogus votes across the country. If TMC has won in West Bengal, it is because of the bogus votes that it has got registered. The TMC and Congress are opposing it because of this only. Even CPI(M) has got a large number of bogus votes in Kerala," Modi alleged.
Ray of TMC said he wanted to give a dissent note for which he sought time from the standing committee chairman, which was not allowed. Modi, however, said there is no dissent note recorded in the panel report.
With PTI inputs
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