New Delhi: The Election Commission of India has requested the Narendra Modi government to bring in amendments to existing laws, which would let Aadhaar numbers be linked with the electoral roll at the earliest.
In a letter to the law ministry, dated 13 August, the EC said it would be in “national interest” to use Aadhaar numbers for verification purposes to ensure the identity of applicants to prevent duplication of voters. Therefore, it has asked the law ministry to make the necessary amendments to the Representation of the People Act.
“The Commission is keen to make use of the unique ID numbers provided by Aadhaar scheme for cleaning electoral rolls,” the letter states. “An error-free electoral roll forms the basis for a credible election.”
Eye on the future
The EC is of the view that not only would linking Aadhaar help clean up electoral rolls, but it would also “pave way for exploring use of technology for voting and verification of voter identity in future”.
With the Supreme Court’s final Aadhaar judgment from 2018 in mind, the EC has taken the view that it is not possible to link Aadhaar with Voter IDs without bringing appropriate statutory amendments.
“Accordingly, the Commission is of the considered view that appropriate amendments may be made in the Representation of the People Act, 1950, and in the Aadhaar Act for permitting the election machinery to obtain and use the Aadhaar numbers for the purpose of electoral roll as a backend exercise,” the letter states.
In order to protect the privacy of the voters, the EC has clarified that Aadhaar numbers will not be put in public domain.
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The proposed amendments
According to the provisions of the Aadhaar Act, “mandatory authentication of an Aadhaar number holder for the provision of any service”, or the “use of Aadhaar number for verification of the identity of any individual” is permissible only if required by a law made by Parliament. This is why the EC is asking for amendments to the Representation of the People Act.
According to the proposed amendments, the electoral registration officer would furnish the Aadhaar number of a potential or registered voter for the purpose of verification.
The proposed amendments also make it clear that if someone is unable to furnish an Aadhaar number, that would not deny him/her inclusion in the electoral roll, nor would it lead to deletion. In such cases, alternative ID proofs may be used.
Additionally, since the Registration of Electors Rules, 1960, allow for various forms to be used for application for inclusion in electoral rolls, all their formats would need to be changed.
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