The Election Laws (Amendment) Bill, 2021 that seeks to link electoral rolls to Aadhaar number has been listed for introduction in the Lok Sabha on Monday.
The Bill allows electoral registration officers to ask for Aadhaar numbers of applicants wanting to register as voters to establish the identity of the applicant.
It also seeks to allow the officers to ask for the 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”.
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”.
Other documents to establish identity
People who cannot furnish their Aadhaar numbers will be allowed to present other documents to establish identity.
According to the Bill circulated to the Lok Sabha members ahead of its introduction, various Sections of the Representation of the People Act, 1950 and 1951 will be amended.
The Statement of Objects and Reasons says Section 23 of the RP Act, 1950 will be amended to allow linking of the roll data with the Aadhaar ecosystem “to curb the menace of multiple enrolment of the same person in different places”.
Amendment to Section 14 of the RP Act, 1950 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. Now, “the January 1, April 1, July 1 and October 1 in a calendar year” will be the qualifying dates in relation to the preparation or revision of electoral rolls.
Gender-neutral for service voters
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. It will also help replace the word “wife” with the word “spouse” making the statutes “gender neutral”. This seeks to redress any discrimination against male spouses of female armed services employees, with “wife” being replaced as “spouse.”
According to Government managers who spoke to The Hindu , priority has been accorded to this Bill over seven others mentioned by Minister of State for Parliamentary Affairs Arjun Ram Meghwal on Friday in Parliament as business for the last week of the winter session. The Union Cabinet had cleared the Bill on Wednesday when it met last.