The voters may soon be asked to link their voter cards with Aadhaar numbers as the Union Law Ministry has reacted positively to a request from the Election Commission of India. EC seeks legal power to resume the practice, The Indian Express has reported.
The ministry, however, has asked the EC to “enumerate” the safety measures in place to prevent “theft, interception and hijacking” of data.
In August, EC wrote a letter to the Law Secretary, proposing amendments to the Representation of the People Act, 1950, and the Aadhaar Act, 2016, for getting statutory backing to collect Aadhaar numbers of new applicants and existing voters to check multiple entries in electoral rolls.
According to the EC proposal, the electoral law should be amended to empower the Electoral Registration Officer to seek Aadhaar numbers of the existing voters, as well as of those applying to the voters’ list.
In support of the proposal, the poll watchdog argued seeding of voter cards with Aadhaar would help remove duplicate entries and fake voters and, hence, serve the national interest.
It, however, mentioned that no one would be denied enrolment or deleted from the voters’ list for the inability to provide Aadhaar numbers.
In September, the Law Ministry reportedly responded stating that the EC’s rationale would “pass the benchmark test laid down by the Honourable Supreme Court for collecting Aadhaar details for purposes other than getting benefits of state-sponsored schemes”.
Further, given the Supreme Court’s emphasis on the need for “protecting the privacy of individuals”, the ministry asked EC to list the safeguards built into the electoral roll data platform.
On December 12, the poll watchdog replied to the ministry, stating that it had already taken “multiple measures” to protect the voter list data, suggested the report.
The exercise of linking Aadhaar with the Electors Photo Identity Cards (or EPIC) was first started in February 2015 when HS Brahma was the chief election commissioner. But, it was stopped in August that year after a Supreme Court order.
EC had already linked 38 crore voter cards to Aadhaar by then, added the report.