The Election Commission of India wants the Representation of the People Act, 1950, amended to allow Aadhaar and Voter ID linkage, which it believes is in national interest. The Election Commission wrote to the Law Ministry on August 13, urging it to allow people to use their Aadhaar card to register for electoral roll and to carry out de-duplication in electoral roll. At the same time, the Commission said that voter names will not be deleted if they don’t have an Aadhaar card. Applications for being on the electoral roll will not be denied for those without Aadhaar. MediaNama obtained a copy of the letter via RTI.
The Commission proposed adding a new sub-section (4) in Section 23 of the Representation of the People Act, 1950 (RP Act). Here are the detailed proposals:
“(4) The electoral registration officer may for the purpose of establishing the identity of any person require that such individual may furnish the Aadhaar number given by Unique Identification Authority of India under the provisions of the Aadhaar (Targeted Delivery of Financial and Other Subsidies, Benefits and Services) Act, 2016
Provided that the electoral registration officer may also seek the Aadhaar 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
Provided further 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 inability of an individual to furnish Aadhaar number due to non-possession and the verification of identity and other facts shall be done by using alternate identity documents in such manner as may be prescribed. ”
– ECI’s proposed amendments to the RP Act, 1950 [emphasis ours]
After the the above amendments are made to the Act, forms for inclusion of name in the electoral roll will include a column for providing the Aadhaar number, the Commission wrote. It also clarified that “Aadhaar numbers will not be put in public domain”.
“Linking of Electoral Photo Identity Cards (EPIC) with Aadhaar Card has become necessary to streamline the process for registration of migrated voters without duplication in electoral rolls,” the ECI wrote. It also said that this will pave the way for using technology for voting and verification of voter identity in the future.
ECI and several political parties want Aadhaar and voter ID linkage
Linking Aadhaar with voter IDs is something that not only the Election Commission but also political parties have been advocating for over a year now. Maharashtra CM Devendra Fadnavis wrote to the ECI urging it to link the two documents. Opposition members in the Maharashtra assembly from the Nationalist Congress Party have also recommended the linkage.
- In August 2018, 7 National and 34 State political parties urged the Election Commission of India to link Voter IDs with the Aadhaar card to weed out duplicate voter names.
- Just a year before that, the ECI had itself petitioned for the linkage of voter IDs and Aadhaar in the Supreme Court.
The Election Commission had began Aadhaar and Voter ID linkage in 2015 under its National Electoral Roll Purification & Authentication Programme (NERPAP). However, the commission had to suspend all activities related to collection/feeding/seeding of Aadhaar number after an interim SC order in August the same year stopped it from doing so. It is also worth noting that the ECI had sought retired Supreme Court Judge Vikramjit Sen’s comments on the possible linkage of Aadhaar and Voter IDs, who said that people should choose between the right to privacy or right to vote.