Understanding the importance of Amendments to Election Laws

In the midst of many tussles in both houses, the opposition parties are demanding that a Parliamentary Panel  be set up to scrutinise the Electoral Law (Amendment) Bill. The ruling NDA government was able to pass the Election Law (Amendment) Bill, 2021 in both the houses of parliament which paved the way for notable changes. These changes include Linking of Aadhar to Voter Id, qualifying date for enrollment in electoral in four qualifying dates 1st date of January, April, July and October instead of One date January 1st and paves way for gender neutrality by replacing the term ‘Wife’ with ‘Spouse’ in the act.

While presenting the bill on the table in the Lower house, union law minister Kiren Rijiju said Election Law Amendment bill 2021 is important electoral reform which been already backed by the parliamentary standing committee to link Voter id with the Aadhar card which will purify the multiple enrolments of the same person as a voter in different places will cleanse the electoral system. 

The bill was faced with opposition particularly from Congress, CPI and AIMIM alleging that the Central government’s move to Link of Aadhar card with electoral roll will lead to breach of Privacy and Violation of fundamental rights. Congress MP Shashi Tharoor referring to an Apex court verdict said that Aadhar is just a proof of residence and not citizenship. Opposition even claimed that linkage of Aadhar will lead to targeted campaigns by the political parties during elections.

Even though the newly amended bill addresses major flaws like ‘bogus voting’ which is one of the serious issues with the Indian electoral system, it was seen in the past that the same political parties who are now opposing the bill have alleged fake voting and demanded the linkage of Aadhar card in the past.

Past Requests

As per 2018 reports,the Madhya Pradesh Congress delegation in the midst of Assembly Polls met the central election commissioner for re-verification of elector rolls and urged linking of Aadhar card with Voter id. It even alleged that there were more than 30 thousand to 40 thousand fake voters in almost every constituency of Madhya Pradesh. In the similar incident, Sharad Pawar led NCP had urged then Maharashtra chief minister Devendra Fadnavis to link voter id with the Aadhar Card to filter the fake voting. Opposition allegedly condemned the bill claiming it was a violation of Supreme Court orders and a threat to privacy. It could eventually lead to mass disenfranchisement of voters but when we take a look at these concerns it seems like a baseless argument. 

The Aadhar is used in various entities as one among proof of identity for taking up new telecommunication services to avail banking services or to various government schemes. Even the central and state governments are already linking Aadhaar with existing ration cards through which it was able to successfully eliminate millions of bogus ration cards across India. 

Aadhar is fully safe and secure with the highest level of software security code which is not easily compromised. UIDAI uses one of the world’s most advanced encryption technologies in the transmission and storage of Biometric data. As per UIDAI reports in 2020 about 99% of the Indian population holds an Aadhar card which accounts for 129.48 crore people in the country. Year on year we come upon the same kinds of allegations from various political parties. Though the amended bill to link Aadhaar to voter id is not mandatory, linking the two will certainly address bogus voting to a large extent. It will also clean-up the double entries in the electoral roll and will purify the Indian electoral system further.

(The author is a student of Business Management at Jain University, Bengaluru. The opinions expressed are author’s own)

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