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Election Laws (Amendment) Bill, 2021 passed by Lok Sabha explained in 10 points

The Election Laws (Amendment) Bill, 2021 passed in Lok Sabha has been witnessing protests by opposition parties.Premium
The Election Laws (Amendment) Bill, 2021 passed in Lok Sabha has been witnessing protests by opposition parties.

  • The Election Laws (Amendment) Bill 2021, piloted by Law Minister Kiren Rijiju, was passed by a voice vote after a brief discussion.
  • The Bill seeks to allow electoral registration officers to seek the Aadhaar number of people who want to register as voters for the purpose of establishing identity.

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In the wake of emerging strong protests by opposition parties against the Election Laws (Amendment) Bill, the central government on Tuesday reiterated that these reforms are needed and also gave a detailed overview of how the proposed changes will benefit the electoral system.

The Election Laws (Amendment) Bill 2021, piloted by Law Minister Kiren Rijiju, was passed by a voice vote after a brief discussion during which some opposition members demanded that it be referred to a parliamentary panel for scrutiny.

Here are 10 things to know about the Bill:

1) The Election Laws (Amendment) Bill, 2021 seeks to allow electoral registration officers to seek the Aadhaar number of people who want to register as voters for the purpose of establishing identity. The bill is set to the tabled in the Rajya Sabha, or upper house, today for a debate.

2) The Bill 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."

3) Further, 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."

4) 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.

5) Additionally, it was notified that various sections of the Representation of the People Act will be amended. The Statement of Objects and Reasons of the Bill states that Section 23 of the RP Act will be amended to allow linking of electoral roll data with the Aadhaar ecosystem "to curb the menace of multiple enrolment of the same person in different places."

6) Amendment to Section 14 of the RP Act will allow to have four "qualifying" dates for eligible people to register as voters. As of now, January 1 of every year is the sole qualifying date. People who turn 18 on or before January 1 can register as voters. Those turning 18 after that have to wait for one whole year to register as voters.

7) Now, "the 1st day of January, 1st day of April, 1st day of July and 1st day of October in a calendar year" will be the qualifying dates in relation to the preparation or revision of electoral rolls.

8) Amendment to Section 20 of the RP Act, 1950 and Section 60 of the RP Act, 1951 will allow the elections become gender neutral for service voters. The amendment will also help replace the word "wife" with the word "spouse" making the statutes "gender neutral." While, an Armyman's wife is entitled to be enrolled as a service voter, but a woman Army officer's husband is not, according to provisions in the electoral law. With "wife" being replaced by the term "spouse," this will change.

 9) Meanwhile, the opposition has been attacking the government for its passage in the Lok Sabha. The opposition parties want the bill to be sent to a standing committee. Opposition parties must resolutely resist the electoral reforms Bill from being bulldozed in Rajya Sabha. Members of Parliament were not given time for discussion, the CPI(M) said in its statement.

 10) The CPI(M) said in a statement have insisted that this Bill has the danger of violating both secrecy of the vote undermining the principle of secret ballot and the fundamental right to privacy of the voter. The politburo of the CPI(M) have condemned the manner in which important changes in the electoral laws, which have far-reaching consequences, have been rushed through Lok Sabha and passed in a din, it noted.

 

 

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