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The concerns around the Aadhaar-Voter ID linkage

GS paper 2

Syllabus: Government policies and interventions for the development of various sectors and issues arising out of it etc

 

Directions: Important topic for the perspective of the main, can be asked directly or can be used as an example in privacy-related issues.

Source: The Hindu

Context: There have been reports of instances where block-level officers have asked individuals to link their Aadhaar with their Voter IDs, failing which their Voter IDs could be cancelled.

Need for Linking Aadhaar with Voter ID:

      • Exercise by EC: Updated and accurate record of the voter base by the Election Commission.
      • Weed out duplication of voters: Such as migrant workers(who may have registered more than once on the electoral rolls in different constituencies) or persons registered multiple times within the same constituency.

Is the linking of Aadhaar with one’s Voter ID mandatory?

      • Election Laws (Amendment) Act, 2021:
        • Amended RPA,1950 and Section 23(4) was inserted.
        • It states that the electoral registration officer may “for the purpose of establishing the identity or authentication of any person already enrolled, to furnish their Aadhaar numbers”.
      • Registration of Electors Rules, 1960(Rule 26B): Every person whose name is listed in the roll may intimate his Aadhar number to the registration officer.
      • Form 6B: It provides the voter to either submit their Aadhaar number or any other listed document.

Advantages related to Aadhar:

      • Universal: At the end of 2021, 99.7% of the adult Indian population had an Aadhaar card exceeding any other officially valid document such as a driver’s license, ration cards, PAN cards etc that are mostly applied for specific purposes.
      • More reliable: Aadhaar-based authentication and verification are considered more reliable, quicker and cost-efficient when compared to other IDs.

 Issues with linking:

      • Puttaswamy judgment(2017): The Court held that depriving a person of their right to privacy for non-linkage fell foul of the test of proportionality.
      • Lal Babu Hussein (1995): The Supreme Court held that the Right to vote cannot be disallowed by insisting only on four proofs of identity — voters can rely on any other proof of identity and obtain the right to vote.

What are the operational difficulties with Aadhar:

      • Proof of residence only: The preference for Aadhaar to determine voters is puzzling as Aadhaar is only a proof of residence and not a proof of citizenship.
      • Errors in biometrics: The estimate of error rates in biometric-based authentication differ widely.
        • As per the UIDAI in 2018, Aadhaar-based biometric authentication had a 12% error rate.
      • Violation of the right to privacy and surveillance measures by the state: Linking of the two databases of electoral rolls and Aadhaar could lead to the linkage of Aadhaar’s “demographic” information with voter ID information.

Way forward:

      • Form 6B: It is important that the government clarifies through a correction in Form 6B that the linking is not mandatory
      • Data protection legislation: The enactment of data protection legislation that allays concerns of unauthorized processing of personal data held by the government.

 

Insta Links:

Aadhaar

Mains Link:

Q. Examine the scope of Fundamental Rights in light of the latest judgment of the Supreme Court on the Right to Privacy. (UPSC 2017)

 

Prelims Links:

      • Aadhaar
      • UIDAI
      • Voter card
      • ECI
      • Puttaswamy judgment(2017)

Consider the following statements: (UPSC 2018)

    1. Aadhaar card can be used as a proof of citizenship or domicile.
    2. Once issued, Aadhaar number cannot be deactivated or omitted by the Issuing Authority.

Which of the statements given above is/are correct?

a. 1 only

b. 2 only

c. Both 1 and 2

d. Neither 1 nor 2

Ans: (d)

Justification:

      • Section 9 of the Aadhaar Act, 2016: It states that “the Aadhaar number or the authentication thereof shall not, by itself, confer any right of, or be proof of, citizenship or domicile in respect of an Aadhaar number holder.
      • The Aadhaar Act regulations state that an individual’s Aadhaar number may be “omitted” permanently or deactivated temporarily by the Unique Identification Authority of India, the agency responsible for issuing the numbers and managing the database.