Aadhar-Voter ID linkage

Aadhar-Voter ID linkage

News: There have been reports of instances where block-level officers have asked individuals to link their Aadhaar with their Voter IDs, failing which their Voter IDs could be cancelled.

Reasons behind push for linkage:
• The linking project would help the Election Commission, which conducts regular exercises to maintain an updated and accurate record of the voter base.
• To weed out duplication of voters, such as migrant workers who may have been registered more than once on the electoral rolls in different constituencies or for persons registered multiple times within the same constituency.
• As per the government, linkage of Aadhaar with voter IDs will assist in ensuring that only one Voter ID is issued per citizen of India.

Is it mandatory?
• Recently, Election Laws (Amendment) Act, 2021 had amended RPA,1950 and Section 23(4) was inserted. It states that the electoral registration officer may “for the purpose of establishing the identity or authentication of any person already enrolled, require them to furnish their Aadhaar numbers”.
• Registration of Electors Rules, 1960(Rule 26B) - Every person whose name is listed in the roll may intimate his Aadhar number to the registration officer.
• Form 6B requires the voter to either submit their Aadhaar number or any other listed document.

What is the significance of this linkage?
• Aadhaar-based authentication and verification are considered more reliable, quicker and cost-efficient when compared to other IDs.
• At the end of 2021, 99.7% of the adult Indian population had an Aadhaar card exceeding any other officially valid document such as a driver’s license, ration cards, PAN cards that are mostly applied for specific purposes.

What are the concerns surrounding this linkage?
• Violation of right to privacy - The linking of the two databases of electoral rolls and Aadhaar could lead to the linkage of Aadhaar’s “demographic” information with voter ID information and lead to violation of the right to privacy and surveillance measures by the state.
• Ambiguous constitutional status - In the Puttaswamy case (Right to Privacy), one of the questions that the Supreme Court explored was whether the mandatory linking of Aadhaar with bank accounts was constitutional or not.
• Questions raised over Aadhar’s use for proof of citizenship – Aadhar as per its original mandate was supposed to be only used for providing proof of residence.
• Errors in Biometrics - The estimate of error rates in biometric-based authentication differ widely. As per the UIDAI in 2018, Aadhaar-based biometric authentication had a 12% error rate.

What is the way forward?
• It is important that the government clarifies through a correction in Form 6B that the linking is not mandatory
• The enactment of data protection legislation that allays concerns of unauthorized processing of personal data held by the government.

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