New Delhi: The Narendra Modi government has told the Election Commission (EC) that it is preparing for the legal amendments required to link Aadhaar and voter IDs, which would enable a foolproof electoral roll and remote voting from any part of the country.
Chief Election Commissioner Sunil Arora, and Election Commissioners Ashok Lavasa and Sushil Chandra along with other senior officials of the EC met Law Secretary Narayan Raju and other law ministry officials Tuesday to discuss the pending electoral reforms, according to a statement issued to the media.
The government, it is learnt, assured the poll watchdog that it would take the proposal to the Cabinet for approval in the coming weeks as it would require amendments to the Representation of People’s Act (RPA), 1951.
In a letter to the Ministry of Law in August last year, the EC had said it would be in the “national interest” to link Aadhaar with voter IDs to cleanse the electoral rolls and prevent duplication of voters. The EC had also asked the ministry to make necessary legal amendments for the linkage.
“The commission is keen to make use of the unique ID numbers provided by Aadhaar scheme for cleaning electoral rolls,” the EC had said. “An error-free electoral roll forms the basis for a credible election.”
In the subsequent months, the ministry had asked the commission to ensure there is no possibility of privacy infringement of voters once the linkage takes place, officials told ThePrint.
The poll body and the ministry also discussed the commission’s recent proposal to facilitate remote voting, which would allow voters to exercise their franchise from any part of the country irrespective of the constituency in which they are registered as voters. This too would require Aadhaar linkage.
A senior poll panel official had recently said the EC is working on a technology in collaboration with IIT, Madras that will allow people to vote from faraway places without going to the polling station of their respective constituencies.
Legal amendments required
In its August letter, the EC had said according to 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. The commission is therefore asking for amendments to the RPA.
According to the proposed amendments by the EC, 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, it 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 allows various forms to be used for application for inclusion in electoral rolls, all their formats would need to be changed.