The link between Aadhaar and voter ID cards will be “voluntary and not mandatory”, Justice Minister Kiren Rijiju told NDTV on Tuesday, amid spiraling protests against the controversial Election Laws Bill ( amendment) and the equally controversial way in which it was rushed through Parliament.
“It would be voluntary and not compulsory to link the voter card to Aadhaar. Even if a citizen does not have an Aadhaar card, his name will not be removed from the electoral rolls. If you are over 18 and your name is on the voters list … then you are a voter,” Mr Rijiju told NDTV.
“The Electoral Laws Bill is necessary to make the electoral process clean and orderly…Right now, a voter sees their name on the voters list in three or four places. It is very important to weed out those who are fake voters,” the minister said.
“The opposition’s argument is absolutely false…they have no basis,” he said.
Also yesterday, Mr Rijiju defended the bill, telling the ANI news agency that the opposition had been invited to participate and voice their opinions in the discussion, but instead they created chaos .
However, furious opposition leaders have slammed the government for the way the Electoral Laws (Amendment) Bill was passed – at the Lok Sabha on Monday night and at the Rajya Sabha today – within hours. and without real debate on possible defects.
Congressman Mallikarjun Kharge, Leader of the Opposition in the Upper House, Says Electoral Laws Bill Passed Without “Discussion or Debate”; he called it “a mockery of our democracy.”
Trinamool MP Derek O’Brien has been suspended for the remainder of the winter session after being accused of throwing the settlement at the Rajya Sabha chairman during protests against the bill.
Speaking to NDTV shortly after, Mr O’Brien repeatedly highlighted how the Bill (and others in the past) had been pushed past opposition MPs and pointed to the “murder of Parliament”.
At the Rajya Sabha earlier, Mr O’Brien had cited the rulebook to say the bill was being passed without sufficient notice to opposition party leaders.
Harivansh Narayan Singh, the then president, said the shortest notice was allowed by the rules.
The Election Laws (Amendment) Bill allows voter registration officers to look up the Aadhaar number of people who wish to register as voters “for the purpose of establishing their identity”.
Thus, the possibility of voters whose names appear more than once can be removed, government sources told the PTI news agency. This will help “clean up” the voters list and make it easier for voters to register in places where they “habitually reside”, the sources added.
The bill also seeks to make statutes gender-neutral by replacing the term “wife” with “wife” to allow husbands of military voters to vote from their wives’ duty stations.
It also provides for four qualification dates – January 1, April 1, July 1 and October 1 – per year for voter registration, instead of a single qualification date – January 1.
With the contribution of ANI, PTI