LS passes poll reforms bill

A bill on major electoral reforms, including voluntary linkage of Aadhaar to election identities and providing multiple dates for voter registration, was passed by the Lok Sabha amid strong protests and demands by the opposition to refer the legislation to a standing committee.

The bill, opposition MPs said, was suddenly and hastily included in the supplementary list of business on Monday afternoon and was passed by a voice vote. The MPs alleged that they were not given time to move any amendments even as they said the legislation was a violation of the Aadhaar Act.

Law minister Kiren Rijiju, however, said the bill was an important electoral reform and already had the backing of a parliamentary standing committee with all-party representation, which had asked the government to expedite linking of Aadhaar with electoral rolls as it would lead to “purifying” the rolls of fraud and duplication. The opposition parties have said the bill will be strongly opposed in the Rajya Sabha, which may take it up on Tuesday.

On Monday morning, all the opposition parties had unanimously opposed the introduction of the bill and said it must be referred to a parliamentary standing committee. Congress MP Manish Tewari said the Aadhaar Act does not allow for linking of the card to voters list and is only intended to be used for the disbursal of financial benefits and such matters. He added that it is beyond the legislative competence of the House to take up the bill. The government has held that the Aadhaar Act’s aims that it can be used for welfare and good governance enable such an electoral reform.

TMC alleged that the bill was being brought to tamper with the voter list and violate voter rights. The BSP, RSP and other opposition parties strongly opposed the bill linking Aadhaar with voters’ list too.

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