The government has amended the Registration of Electors Rules to allow linking Aadhaar details with voters list to weed out duplicate entries and making election law gender neutral for service voters.
The Legislative Department in the Union Law Ministry issued notifications on Friday night announcing that the rules have been amended in line with the provisions of the Election Laws (Amendment) Act, 2021 passed by Parliament in December last year.
The Registration of Electors (Amendment) Rules, 2022 will come into force on August 1.
A separate notification said people already enrolled in the voters list should intimate his or her Aadhaar number on or before April 1, 2023 to the officers concerned.
"In exercise of the powers conferred by sub-section (5) of section 23 of the Representation of the People Act, 1950 (43 of 1950), the Central Government hereby notifies the 1st April, 2023 as the date on or before which every person whose name is included in the electoral roll may intimate his Aadhaar number in accordance with the said section," read the notification.
The Election Laws (Amendment) Act seeks to allow electoral registration officers to seek Aadhaar number of people who want to register as voters "for the purpose of establishing the identity".
It also seeks to allow the electoral registration officers to ask for Aadhaar numbers from "persons already included in the electoral roll for the purposes of authentication of entries in the electoral roll, and to identify registration of the name of the same person in the electoral roll of more than one constituency or more than once in the same constituency".
At the same time, the bill as passed by Parliament 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 the inability of an individual to furnish or intimate Aadhaar number due to such sufficient cause as may be prescribed".
A new form "6B" has been introduced to allow existing voters share their Aadhaar number.
Those who do not have Aadhaar card, have an option of sharing other proofs such as MNREGA job card, health insurance smart card issued under the scheme of Ministry of Labour, driving license and PAN card.
Those not submitting Aadhaar number have to tick the box which says: "I am not able to furnish my Aadhaar Number because I don't have Aadhaar number. Therefore, I hereby submit a copy of one of the following documents ..."
Providion for seeking Aadhaar details have been included in other forms too, including those who seek to become voters.
They too have to option of not sharing the Aadhaar number saying that they don't have one.
According to the Act, for which amended rules were notified on Friday, now a citizen who turns 18 on the January 1 or April 1 or July 1 or October 1 in a calendar year can immediately apply for voter registration.
The four qualifying dates will considerably enhance the voter base, Law Minister Kiren Rijiju had said on Friday.
As of now, January 1 is the only cut off date to register as a voter. Those turning 18 on or before January 1 can register as voters on day one of January. Those turning 18 after that have to wait for one whole year.
Seeking to make electoral law gender neutral, the word "wife" will be substituted with the word "spouse" making the statutes gender neutral which will allow the wife or husband of a service voter to avail the voting facility available.
Soldiers deployed in far flung areas or members of Indian missions abroad are some of the people considered as service voters.
An army man's wife is entitled to be enrolled as a service voter, but a woman army officer's husband is not, according to provisions in the electoral law. But now it will change.
The poll panel had asked the law ministry to replace the term wife' with spouse' in the provision in the Representation of the People Act related to service voters.
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