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India Govt gives nod for Aadhaar-Voter ID linking


Aadhaar-Voter ID linking process gets the Modi
government nod! The Union Law Ministry has given its approval for Aadhaar Card
Voter ID linking process, a proposal put forwarded by the Election Commission
of India (ECI). The poll watchdog sought legal powers to resume the process of
linking of 12-digit Aadhaar numbers with Voter ID. The poll watchdog has
emphasized the need for seeding of Electors Photo Identity Cards (or EPIC) or
Voter cards with Aadhaar claiming that the move would weed out duplicate
entries and bogus voters, and thereby serves the national interest. According
to an IE report, both new entries in the Voter ID list and those who have
already enrolled may be asked to share their Aadhaar Card number. However, the
proposed amendment clearly mentions that if anyone fails to furnish Aadhaar
details, that individual will not be denied enrollment or details won’t be
deleted from the voters’ list, the report says.

 While
approving the ECI’s proposal, the Union Law Ministry headed by Ravi Shankar
Prasad has categorically asked the ECI to enumerate the measures that the poll
watchdog is adopting to safeguard data from being hijacked, intercepted and
stolen, as per the report.
In its reply, the ECI had sent the list of safeguard measures to the Union Law
Ministry in December. The ECI mentioned that these measures are for both
application and infrastructure levels. The ECI has also mentioned that the
Aadhaar ecosystem is not entered into by the electoral roll database, the
report says.

What is Aadhaar-Voter ID linking, seeding?

It
all began in August 2019 when the ECI wrote a letter addressed to the Law
Secretary proposing amendments to two pivotal acts- Aadhaar Act, 2016, and
Representation of the People Act, 1950. The ECI in the letter stated that
proposed amendments would legally empower it to gather and utilize Aadhaar data
in order to clean voters’ lists as a “back-end exercise”.

Modi government’s stand


Responding
to the ECI’s letter of request, the Union Law Ministry stated in September that
the ECI’s rationale would “pass the benchmark test laid down by the Hon’ble
Supreme Court for collecting Aadhaar details for purposes other than getting
benefits of state-sponsored schemes.” However, since Supreme Court in its
observation strictly emphasized the need for “protecting the privacy of
individuals”, the ECI must list out the safeguards it had into the platform
which maintains electoral roll data, the Union Law Ministry said, as per the
report. On December 12, 2019, the ECI sent details of safeguard measures like
two-factor authentication encryption.

The exercise of linking Aadhaar with the voter cards
was initiated by the ECI in February 2015 during the tenure of the then Chief
Election Commissioner HS Brahma. However, the Aadhaar-Voter ID linking process
was suspended in August 2015 after the apex court restricted the use of Aadhaar
Card to LPG and kerosene distribution and Public Distribution System (PDS). 38
crore voter cards were already linked with Aadhaar till August 2015.
The top court in its order stated that while ‘Right to Privacy’ is a fundamental
right, this can be curtailed provided there is a specific law authorizing the
gathering of Aadhaar details or state interest is involved. Subsequently, the
ECI sought legal powers to resume the process of Aadhaar-Voter ID seeding.





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