Despite the opposition’s strong protests, the government passed the Election Laws (Amendment) Bill, 2021. The bill, which was passed in the Lok Sabha through a voice vote, will link Aadhaar with the voter ID card.
Adhir Ranjan Chowdhury, Congress leader, said he opposes the bill demanded that the legislative document be referred to the concerned standing committee for further scrutiny. Chowdhry believes the bill is an infringement on the fundamental right of privacy as enunciated by the Supreme Court. “It will lead to mass disenfranchisement. That’s why we are demanding that this bill should be referred to the standing committee.”
Manish Tewari, another Congress leader, said the bill is beyond the legislative competence of the government. He expressed concerns that it will cause great harm to the democracy of India. “The Aadhaar Act does not allow for the linking of Aadhaar with the electoral roll. The Aadhaar Act is very explicit. It is an act which is for the targeted delivery of financial and other subsidy benefits and services,” Tewari explained. “Voting is a legal right, therefore, the Aadhaar act is beyond the legislative competence of this bill. Therefore, we oppose the introduction of this bill.”
Shashi Tharoor, Congress party member, highlighed that Aadhaar was only meant to be a proof of residence. “It is not proof of citizenship. In our country, only citizens are allowed to vote.” Asaduddin Owaisi, the AIMIM MP, who also opposes the bill said it is outside the legislative competence of the House and violates the limits on legislation set by the Supreme Court in the Puttaswamy case. “The linking of voter ID with Aadhaar violates the fundamental right of privacy defined in the Puttaswamy case.”
However, Kiren Rijiju, the Law Minister brushed off the opposition’s arguments, saying that they have misinterpreted the Supreme Court’s judgment. “Neither they have understood the objective of the bill correctly, nor their argument is right.” The bill provides for amendment of section 23 of the RP Act, 1950. It enables for the linking of electoral roll data with the Aadhaar ecosystem to tackle the menace of multiple enrolment of the same person in different places.