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UPSC LAW OPTIONAL MAINS CURRENT AFFAIRS DECEMBER


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ARTICLE 1 | Source | The Hindu | Dated 22nd December : Title of the Article: Priority for bill on voter ID-Aadhar Link
Link to access the article : Click here

Why in News?

Ø The Bill allows electoral registration officers to ask for Aadhaar numbers of applicants wanting to register as voters to establish the identity of the applicant

Ø The Election Laws (Amendment) Bill, 2021, which seeks to link electoral rolls with the Aadhaar ecosystem to weed out duplication

Ø Law Minister Rijiju introduces the Election Laws (Amendment) Bill, 2021 in LS and says this legislation will end bogus voting in the country and make the electoral process more credible.


Amendment | FAIR ELECTION | It seeks to allow the officers to ask for the number from “persons already included in the electoral roll for the purposes of authentication of entries in electoral roll, and to identify registration of name of the same person in the electoral roll of more than one constituency or more than once in the same constituency”.


Ø This amendment bill make 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 furnace or intimate Aadhar number do to search in sufficient cause as may be prescribed.


Ø The statement of objects and reasons a Section 23 of the RP Act 1951 will be amended to allow linking of the roll data with Aadhaar ecosystem to curve the meanings of multiple enrollment of the same person in different places.





LINKED ARTICLE | Source | The Hindu | Dated 23rd December | Title of the Article: Why the electoral reforms Bill is a problem | Access Link: Click here


Why in News?

Ø WHAT THE BILL ACTUALLY DO ? The Bill allows electoral registration officers to ask for Aadhaar numbers of applicants wanting to register as voters to establish the identity of the applicant

Ø AIM ! The Election Laws (Amendment) Bill, 2021, which seeks to link electoral rolls with the Aadhaar ecosystem to weed out duplication


Amendment |

Ø PROCEDURE ! An electoral registration officer may “require” an individual to furnish their Aadhaar number in order to establish their identity. Even persons already enrolled “may” be “required” by the officer to furnish their Aadhaar numbers in order to authenticate their entries in the electoral roll.


Ø OPTION | Registered voters have the option of providing their Aadhaar number to Government authority.


Ø NEED NOT PANIC ! No one shall be denied inclusion in the electoral roll, nor shall their names be deleted from the electoral roll due to their inability to furnish the Aadhaar number “due to such sufficient cause as may be prescribed”. Such individuals may be allowed to furnish alternate documents, as prescribed by the Central government


Substantive and procedural concerns |

Voluntary | The Government has termed these measures as voluntary; The electoral officer clearly has uncanalised discretion — since the law does not prescribe any guiding principles — to decide when an Aadhaar number may be “required”.


Sufficient cause | the Central government has the final say in prescribing the conditions (“sufficient cause”) under which an individual will be permitted to enter or remain on the electoral rolls, in case of her “inability” to furnish their Aadhaar.


Deciding factor | This means that the Central government will decide what reasons are considered acceptable for a voter to remain on the electoral roll. Interestingly, the law does not even consider a situation where an individual may be opposed to linking her Aadhaar number to the electoral database- further undermining the voluntary premise of the amendments.

Political profiling | There are concerns that the amendment will result in political profiling. HOW ?

  • By linking electoral IDs with Aadhaar numbers, it is much easier for the Government to track which voter has accessed welfare subsidies and benefits using their Aadhaar.

  • This can be used by political parties to selectively target their messages to specific voters, using information that is not publicly available.

Failed to provide empirical data | The Government has failed to provide any empirical data that demonstrates either the extent of the problem of bogus voters in the electoral roll (justifying this extraordinary measure) or the success of Aadhaar in de-deduplication.


NOTE ! It is now well known that the Aadhaar database is beset with errors and exclusions. This is partly because there is no verification of the authenticity of the demographic information on the Aadhaar database, i.e. the UIDAI does not independently authenticate the information provided by an applicant at the time of enrolment.


Burden of proof shifts | EFFECT !

In this manner, the burden of proof has been reversed. Instead of the Government proactively ensuring registration on the electoral rolls (such as through house-to-house verification) to achieve universal adult franchise, the burden now shifts to individuals who may be unable/unwilling to link their Aadhaar to justify their retention on the rolls. In fact, deletion from the voter rolls will happen without any procedural safeguards since at the moment, the law does not provide for a right to a hearing before such deletion.


Example | In 2015, media reports highlighted how lakhs of voters in Andhra Pradesh and Telangana were reportedly excluded from the electoral process due to the practice of linking Aadhaar numbers with electoral ID.


ARTICLE 3 | SOURCE | The Hindu | 20th December | Title of the Article: Protect, don’t pander: On suppression of free speech | Access the article : Click here

Why in News?

Bengaluru has joined the list of cities in which Mr. Faruqui cannot perform because right-wing Hindutva groups routinely threaten to disrupt his shows, wherever they are scheduled to be held. The Bengaluru city police asked the organizers to put off a show of Mr. Faruqui on November 28, alleging that allowing it to go on would create law and order problems and disrupt peace and harmony.


More on News-

Ø Earlier, programmes of Mr. Faruqui in Raipur, Mumbai, Surat, Ahmedabad and Vadodara were called off for the same reason

Ø Mr. Faruqui was arrested in Indore in January after a BJP functionary’s son complained that he was about to denigrate Hindu gods in a planned show. He had to spend 37 days in prison before obtaining bail from the Supreme Court


Issue: Whether a person’s free speech in the country can be silenced by the threats posed by violent and vociferous groups in the country


Relevant Provision: The article 19(1) (a) of the Constitution of India states that, “all citizens shall have the right to freedom of speech and expression” while Article 21 of Constitution of India states Protection of Life and Personal Liberty. Article 21 states that “No person shall be deprived of his life or personal liberty except according to a procedure established by law.” Thus, article 21 secures two rights: Right to life, and Right to personal liberty.



Case; Munawar v. State of Madhya Pradesh (2021 SCC online SC 60)

FACT-

Ø On 01 January 2021, a stand-up comedy show was organized at Munro Café, Indore The complainant, who was also a custodian of Hindu Protection Congregation (Sanghatan); had alleged that in the show, the comedians were deliberately cutting filthy and indecent jokes on Hindu Gods and Goddesses and BJP National President, Amit Shah.


Ø The comedians had hurt and outraged religious sentiments of the complainant.


Ø An FIR was filed for the offences punishable under Sections 295A, 298, 269 and 188/34 IPC


Ø The applicant had sought for bail before the Court of Magistrate and the Sessions Judge respectively but both the applications had been rejected. Madhya Pradesh High Court’s had also, rejected the bail application of Comic Munawar Faruqui and the organizers of the show.





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