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Linking Aadhaar & voter ID will end voting fraud, ex-SC judge tells Election Commission

The Election Commission is said to be pushing for a mandatory link between Aadhaar and voter ID to check attempts to manipulate polls.

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New Delhi: The mandatory linking of Aadhaar with voter IDs is necessary and desirable in order to ensure “anti-social elements” do not vitiate the voting process by casting multiple votes, retired Supreme Court judge Vikramjit Sen has told the Election Commission (EC).

The EC, which has been in favour of linking the 12-digit biometric number with voter IDs, had sought Sen’s opinion on the issue.

“Being a unique voter ID, Aadhaar can ensure there is no double voting… By linking the two, you can ensure that there is no illegal voting in the country,” Sen told ThePrint.

In the next election, he added, there should be mandatory linking of Aadhaar with voter IDs. “It is essential to ensure that the electoral process is efficient, transparent and robust.”

The EC had sought Sen’s comments on the matter amid a push in the poll panel to link the two IDs in order to check voting malpractice.

Last year, after the Supreme Court ruled that Aadhaar could only be made mandatory for PAN cards, filing income tax returns and for welfare schemes, the EC reportedly began to push for mandatory linking of voter IDs with the 12-digit biometric number.

In 2015, the EC launched the National Electoral Roll Purification and Authentication Programme (NERPAP), which entailed voluntary Aadhaar-voter ID linking in order to prepare an “error-free, purified and authenticated electoral roll”.

However, soon after Aadhaar ran into legal trouble over questions pertaining to privacy, and the matter reached the apex court, the programme was stopped. At the time, it had covered nearly 380 million voters.

Also read: Using Aadhaar biometrics for forensics technically & legally not feasible: UIDAI

‘Make the choice: Privacy or vote’

Asked if mandatory linking could deprive voting rights to those who may not possess an Aadhaar card, Sen said, “If someone chooses to not possess an Aadhaar card because they believe that it is an invasion on their privacy, then they should be willing to give up their votes.

“It is about choosing which right is more important for you, and balancing — the right to privacy or the right to vote,” Sen added.

While Sen did not comment on whether or not Aadhaar infringed on an individual’s privacy, he said, “For the sake of argument, even if it does infringe on one’s privacy, people should make a choice. If this is what it takes to prevent anti-social elements from voting, so be it.”

However, if someone does not possess Aadhaar because they were unable to get it, it should not be grounds for disallowing them their right to vote, he said.

Sen said linking the two IDs would require an amendment to the Representation of the People Act, 1952, which oversees elections in India, but added that it was not for him to comment on the terms or nature of the amendment.

Asked when the EC had sought his opinion, Sen refused to answer, calling it “confidential information”.

Also read: Govt puts plan to link Aadhaar with driving licence on hold

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  1. “Certain individuals after retirement commenting & suggesting to serving authorities”

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