Aadhar-Voter ID linking - what it means

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Aadhar is now linked with Voter ID. What does it mean?

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Aadhar-Voter ID linking - what it means

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      • The story: The Election Laws (Amendment) Bill, 2021 was passed in December 2021, in a hurry. It now enables the linkage of Aadhar with Voter IDs. The government claims it will help check multiple registrations of the same voter. Not all are convinced. The Bill amends the Representation of the People Act, 1950 and the Representation of the People Act, 1951 to implement certain electoral reforms.
      • Logic by government: It says the Bill incorporates various electoral reforms pending since long. The linking of Aadhaar with electoral rolls will solve the problem of multiple enrolments of the same person at different places. The electoral roll data system will instantly alert the existence of previous registration(s) whenever a person applies for new registration. This will clean the electoral roll to a great extent and facilitate elector registration in the location at which they are ‘ordinarily resident’.
        1. A Parliamentary Standing Committee report on demands of grants of the Law Ministry, presented in Rajya Sabha on March 6 this year, had said: “The Committee has been advocating linkage of unique Aadhaar ID Card number with voter I-card which would streamline alterations in EPIC during change of ordinary residence by the electors. The incidence of multiple entry could also be eliminated which is required in participative democracy…”
      • What Law Minister said: The Law Minister Kiren Rijiju claimed linking Aadhaar with the voter ID card “is voluntary. It is not compulsory or mandatory”. He also claimed that ECI was taken into confidence (Election Commission of India).
        1. 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. The EC said in a release in May 2015: “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…”
        2. That year, the Supreme Court made it clear that “the Aadhaar card Scheme is purely voluntary and it cannot be made mandatory till the matter is finally decided by this Court one way or the other”.
        3. In April 2021, the EC wrote to the Law Ministry seeking “expeditious consideration” of pending electoral reforms including the linkage of Aadhar and voter ID cards. Earlier this week, the Law Ministry issued a statement that on November 16, the Election Commission attended an informal interaction sought by the PMO to finalise the Cabinet note on some long-pending reforms.
      • Opposition to this plan: The linking of voter IDs and Aadhaar violates the fundamental right to privacy as defined by the Supreme Court in the judgment.
        1. Many said that the government would be able to use voter identity details for “disenfranchising some people and profile the citizens”. So the linking of voter ID with Aadhaar violates the fundamental right to privacy defined in Puttaswamy (case)
        2. Govt. said that the present legal provisions have some disparity and some shortcomings, and to remove the same, the government, in consultation with the Election Commission and incorporating recommendations made by the Election Commission, brought these amendments.
        3. A concern is whether the Bill’s implementation will be successful if the linkage is not compulsory. 
          1. The 1950 Act provides that a person may apply to the electoral registration officer for inclusion of their name. The Bill says the electoral registration officer may require a person to furnish their Aadhaar number for establishing their identity. 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.
          2. The first justification provided is that bogus voting where one person is voting more than once is taking place… If you’re saying you have to provide it along with your voter ID whenever you go to vote… this will only work if providing Aadhaar is mandatory. but this section in the law is a bit complicated because it does seem voluntary but the reasons on the basis of which I can choose not to link my Aadhaar will be prescribed by the government for ‘sufficient cause’. That clearly means it is not voluntary!
      • Voting by non-citizens: Aadhaar linkage may 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. You’re potentially giving the vote to non-citizens. Aadhaar is not proof of citizenship and it is said so very clearly in the Aadhaar Act. Voting can only be done by citizens. How will this prevent non-citizens from voting because non-citizens can have an Aadhar card. The goal of preventing non-citizens from voting will not be solved with Aadhaar.
      • Secrecy of vote: A serious concern is that the Bill may violate secrecy of the vote undermining the principle of secret ballots, and the fundamental right to privacy of the voter.
        1. While individual identification of voting choices may not be possible with the linkage of Aadhaar with voter IDs, it will lead to profiling (as per some experts)
        2. Verification of a person’s identity is separate from the capturing of the identity which is already happening in booths when a person goes to vote. But it may help the government link it to other services where larger schemes may be designed based on the data
        3. 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.
        4. In April 2019, the Unique Identification Authority of India (UIDAI) complained to police about a Hyderabad-based software company, IT Grids (India) Private Limited, accusing it of illegally procuring details of 7,82,21,397 Aadhaar holders in Andhra Pradesh and Telangana, and storing these in its databases. Concerns were raised on account of the alleged security vulnerabilities of UIDAI servers, which the authority denied at the time. The case was transferred to a special investigation team, but the investigation has not made any significant progress.
      • Summary: Clearly, the entire system of secret ballot is now being changed in a very fundamental way. Only the future will tell what transpired in the dynamics of this change.
      • EXAM QUESTIONS: (1) Explain the concept of voter ballot secrecy. (2) What are the reasons the govt. anxiously passed the Bill linking Aadhar with Voter ID? (3) What are the top objections to the new bill linking Voter ID with Aadhar? Explain.
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                                                                                                                                                                                                                              PT's IAS Academy: Aadhar-Voter ID linking - what it means
                                                                                                                                                                                                                              Aadhar-Voter ID linking - what it means
                                                                                                                                                                                                                              Aadhar is now linked with Voter ID. What does it mean?
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