Reports of coercion emerge in Aadhaar-voter ID linking

There have been instances of people being warned by booth-level officers that their voter ID would be cancelled if it is not linked to their Aadhaar number.

August 21, 2022 10:16 pm | Updated August 22, 2022 10:13 am IST - NEW DELHI

Representational file image.

Representational file image. | Photo Credit: B. Jothi Ramalingam

Despite clarifications from various government authorities that the linking of Aadhaar with the voter identity card is “voluntary”, there have been instances of people being warned by booth-level officers that their voter ID would be cancelled if it is not linked to their Aadhaar number.

In one such case, the Internet Freedom Foundation (IFF), which advocates digital rights and privacy, in a tweet, alleged that a booth-level officer called one of its staff members seeking the Aadhaar number "or else they'll be deleted from the electoral roll".

The contentious Election Laws (Amendment) Bill, 2021, which allows for the linking of electoral data with the Aadhaar number, was passed by Parliament in December 2021, amid strong protests by the Opposition.

At the time, Union Law Minister Kiren Rijiju had informed Parliament that linking the voter ID with a person’s Aadhaar details would be voluntary.

Responding to the tweet thread by the IFF, the Chief Electoral Officer of Haryana reiterated the same. "Submission of Aadhaar number in Form 6B is voluntary. No entry in electoral roll shall be deleted on the ground of non-submission of Aadhaar number. Purpose of obtaining Aadhaar number is for authentication of electors’ entries in electoral roll & extending better electoral services," the CEO said in a tweet.

Replying to a similar tweet on the issue by a different account, the Chief Electoral Officer of Delhi said that the matter had been “noted to seek more details”.

“Linking of Voter id with AADHAAR is voluntary…” the tweet added.

However, the IFF also pointed out that the Ministry of Law and Justice recently amended Form 6, and introduced Form 6B to the Registration of Electors Rules, 1960. "These forms make it compulsory for those who have Aadhaar to provide their Aadhaar Numbers in order to vote," it noted.

The Election Commission of India started a campaign on August 1 for the “voluntary” linking of Aadhaar details with the voter ID. As part of the campaign, the Commission has set up camps and also begun door-to-door collection of data. It has collected over 2.5 crore Aadhaar details till August 11.

Mr Rijiju told Parliament in August that the reasons behind linking voter IDs with Aadhaar numbers were to streamline electoral rolls and the process of registration of migrated voters without duplication in the rolls and to curb the menace of multiple enrolment of the same person in different places.

The move, however, has drawn flak from various sections of society citing violations to an individual's right to privacy. Many have also flagged concerns that the linkage would help in creating voter profiles which may be used to influence the voting process.

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