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Current Affairs – 22 December 2021

Link Electoral Rolls to Aadhaar Database

The Hindu

GS 2: Election Process

Context:

  • The Election Laws (Amendment) Bill, 2021 that seeks to link electoral rolls to the Aadhaar database was passed in the Rajya Sabha. The Bill was passed by the Lok Sabha earlier. This will enable “the linking of electoral roll data with the Aadhaar ecosystem”.

About:

  • The Bill allowed electoral registration officers to ask for the Aadhaar numbers, as an identity document, of those wanting to register as voters to establish the identity.
  • The Bill amends the Representation of the People Act, 1950 and the Representation of the People Act, 1951 to implement certain electoral reforms.
    • The 1950 Act provides that a person may apply to the electoral registration officer for inclusion of their name.

  • If their name is already in the electoral roll, then the Aadhaar number may be required for authentication of entries in the roll, but people will not be denied inclusion in the electoral roll or have their names deleted, if they are unable to show their Aadhaar cards.

  • The electoral database will be with the ECI and not in public domain.
  • It incorporates various electoral reforms that have been discussed for a long time.
  • Linking Aadhaar with the voter ID card “is voluntary. It is not compulsory or mandatory”.
  • This amendment does not remove other forms of identification to verify EPIC — such as driving license, passport, utility bills, etc.
  • The new amendment will allow four “qualifying” dates for eligible people to register as voters instead of one date currently available.
  • Henceforth January 1, April 1, July 1 and October 1 will be the four qualifying dates.
  • The new amendment will replace the word “wife” with “spouse” in the provisions relating to service voters.
  • This will make the provision “gender-neutral” and will help address the discrimination against male spouses of women armed services employees.

Background:

  • In March 2015, the Election Commission had started a National Electoral Roll Purification and Authentication Programme that sought to link Aadhaar to voter IDs, in a bid to delete duplicated names.
    • Under this programme, beside some other activities, linking and authentication of EPIC data of electors with Aadhaar data is also being done.
  • However, the EC had “issued necessary instructions to the Chief Electoral Officers (CEOS) of the States/UTs specifying that furnishing of Aadhaar number by electors is not mandatory and it is only optional, as directed by the Supreme Court…”

Need of the bill:

  • One of the major concerns of the ECI was duplicity in electoral rolls. There was no system, no law to establish names in multiple electoral rolls and to delete and remove those names. Election process should be clean and it will be clean only if the electoral roll is clean.
  • There have been calls to allow migrant workers to be given the right to vote regardless of their location, to let them participate in elections in their home states.
  • Analysis by Sabrang India indicates that India lags in voter participation compared to other large democracies, a major reason being the staggering numbers of migrant workers — an estimated population of 300 million. Linking the two databases will allow the ECI to track migrant workers and improve election participation.

Opposition views:

  • The Bill would disenfranchise many voters and it was a violation of the right to privacy as defined by the Supreme Court in the judgment (Puttaswamy case).
  • One of the concerns is also that whether the Bill’s implementation will be successful if the linkage is not compulsory.
  • Aadhaar linkage will enable non-citizens to vote. If you are in a position asking for Aadhaar for voters, all you are getting is a document that reflects residence, not citizenship. Aadhaar is not proof of citizenship and it is said so very clearly in the Aadhaar Act. The goal of preventing non-citizens from voting will not be solved with Aadhaar.
  • The other concern is that there is a documented case that Aadhaar data was being leaked. It could lay the foundation of targeted political propaganda which is against the model code of conduct as well.
  • The proposed linking in the absence of a Personal Data Protection Bill (PDPB), can result in abuse and undermine the integrity of the voter roll.
    • UIDAI, in multiple court cases, has admitted that it has no information about the enrolment operator, agency, or even their location while enrolling someone in Aadhaar. Redressing issues of dubious enrolment practices thus become difficult. In the case of EPIC integration, oversight mechanisms and other checks and balances to ensure the integrity of individual data is unclear.

Conclusion:

  • Once Aadhaar linkage is achieved, the electoral roll data system will instantly alert the existence of previous registration(s) whenever a person applies for new registration. This will help in cleaning the electoral roll to a great extent and facilitate elector registration in the location at which they are ‘ordinarily resident’.
  • It may help the government link it to other services where larger schemes may be designed based on the data.
  • BUT in the absence of robust data protection standards, and the fractured experience of previous integrations highlights the precariousness of this move. Instead, until the PDPB is enacted, and the technical details of such an integration are made available to the public, this proposal should not move forward.

 

Mob Lynching

The Hindu

GS 1: Instant Justice and Sacrilege and Silence

Context:

  • The Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) informed the Lok Sabha that the National Crime Records Bureau (NCRB) collected data on mob lynching, hate crimes and cow vigilantism in 2017 but it was discontinued as the data was unreliable as these crimes are not defined.
  • Recently, merely few hours after an unidentified man was lynched at golden temple in Amritsar for attempted sacrilege, another person was killed by a mob at a village Gurudwara in Kapurthala for suspected theft and attempted sacrilege.

About:

  • The word lynching originated in the United States in mid-18th century.
  • Historians believe that the term was first used by planter Charles Lynch to describe extra judicial authority is used by private individuals.
  • It came to be applied over time to extrajudicial killings by the crowd most commonly of African-Americans in the late 19th century.
  • Though, the word is of a foreign origin but mob killings are not alien to India.
  • Mob lynching can be defined as the act of targeted violence by large group of people tantamount of offences against human body or property both public and private
  • The supreme court has aptly described it as a horrendous act of mobocracy.
  • Government has made any efforts to define ‘hate crime’ in the criminal law framework of the country.
  • The government through audio-visual media has also generated public awareness to curb the menace of mob lynching. The government has also sensitized the service providers to take steps to check the propagation of false news and rumours having potential to incite mob violence and lynching.
CAUSES IMPACT
Psychology of mob and misinformation and propaganda news Disrupts social harmony
Instant justice and lack of belief in police and administration Violation of human rights
Discrimination based on communal lines  Unfortunate incidents creates fear in the daily lives of the common man
Lack of database  

Legal provisions:

  • Section 223A of the CRPC: It provides for criminal prosecution. Crowds involved in similar crimes can be prosecuted together.
  • Section 153A of IPC: Promotion of animosity between different groups on the basis of religion, caste, place of birth, place of residence, language, etc. and doing acts prejudicial to maintain harmony.
  • Section 34 of IPC- Acts done by several persons in furtherance of common intention- When a criminal act is done by several persons in furtherance of the common intention of all, each of such persons is liable for that act in the same manner as if it were done by him alone.

Way ahead:

  • The intention of the government is to create a legal structure which is citizen-centric, prioritises to secure life, preserve human rights, and provide speedy justice to the vulnerable sections of the society.
  • It is imperative that we understand the contexts and motives of these crimes for a well-informed political debate. Accurate data is the essential baseline needed to track the occurrence of lynching.
  • Until and unless there is a realisation, coupled with accountability, that punishing the culprit, no matter how grave and heinous the alleged crime, is not the duty of the citizens, there won’t be any pause in cases of lynchings. People need to be made aware  that their act of providing ‘instant justice’ is nothing but in itself a serious crime and a crime cannot be countered by another.

 

Self-help Groups

The Hindu

GS 2: Inclusive Growth, Human Resource

Context:

  • Prime Minister at a programme in Prayagraj transferred ₹1,000 crore to bank accounts of self-help groups (SHGs) to benefit around 16 lakh women.

About:

  • The amount was transferred under the Deendayal Antyodaya Yojana-National Rural Livelihood Mission (DAY-NRLM).
  • The mission aims to provide women, especially those at the grassroots, with necessary skills, incentives and resources.
  • PM also released over ₹20 crore to more than 1 lakh beneficiaries under the ‘Mukhya Mantri Kanya Sumangala Scheme’, which provides conditional cash transfer to a girl child at different stages of her life. The total remittance is ₹15,000 per beneficiary.
  • PM also laid the foundation stone of 202 supplementary nutrition manufacturing units in 43 districts. These units are being funded by SHGs and will be constructed at a cost of around ₹1 crore a unit.