What’s the news: Several residents of Nashik city voiced their apprehensions about linking their Aadhaar with Voter ID and questioned the benefits of such linkage, reported the Times of India on November 28, 2022.
Voters from three assembly constituencies in the city shied away from the Election Commission (EC) of India’s special campaign to link Voter ID cards with Aadhaar numbers. As per the report, residents said they feared their personal data will be compromised.
Speaking to ToI, Rohan Patil, an employee at an IT firm said, “If a person is able to get all the details of my credit card registered with a bank, including the secret card verification value (CVV) number and they just need an OTP to swipe the purchases, then I don’t think my Aadhaar number could be safe if I start giving it out at every place.”
Why it matters: Quite a few experts and government officials have discouraged the idea of linking Aadhaar with Voter IDs. In December 2021, Asaduddin Owaisi, , All India Majlis-e-Ittehadul Muslimeen (AIMIM) President and Lok Sabha MP, said that doing so violates people’s right to privacy. In July 2022, Congress spokesperson Randeep Surjewala filed a PIL challenging the constitutionality of such linking. However, this instance of public hesitance to link the documents indicates how the process, if made mandatory, may go against people’s will.
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Less than 50 percent residents willing to link Aadhaar: Across the district, around 21.4 lakh voters (47 percent) out of 46 lakh voters linked their Aadhaar number to their Voter ID, said ToI. This means that more than half the residents in the city did not like the idea of linking the two documents.
Nashik West assembly was the least enthusiastic about the optional drive with only 20 percent voters submitting forms. Meanwhile, 24 percent of Nashik East residents submitted forms. The participation was somewhat better in Nashik Central where 30 percent voters submitted forms for linking. Some regions like Igatpuri, Yeola, Baglan reported more than half the voters in the region linking the documents.
Government officials told ToI that the data will get maximum security and that these concerns are borne from a lack of understanding of the “security structure”.
What were Surjewala’s concerns about linking Aadhaar with Voter ID?
Although Surjewala’s petition was dismissed by the Supreme Court, his plea raised significant concerns about people’s infringement of rights like privacy. Some of the other arguments in the plea were:
Statutory access to EPIC data: It pointed out that the linking of Aadhaar data with Electronic Electoral Photo Identity Card (EPIC) data will allow a statutory body access to private EPIC data of voters.
Linking violates Article 14: Surjewala argued that the provision to link Aadhaar with Voter ID violates the Right to Equality “as it first, treats equals as unequal.”
No reason for linkage: The plea said that the government has not explained how the linking of the two documents will help contain the menace of same voters being enrolled at several places.
Aadhaar-Voter linkage stayed by the court: In 2015, the Supreme Court suspended ECI’s National Electoral Roll Purification and Authentication (NERPAP) programme for collecting Aadhaar Numbers of electors. It prohibited the use of Aadhaar details for any purposes other than the PDS scheme and the LPG distribution scheme.
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