Aadhaar-voter ID linking soon? Law ministry may prepare Cabinet note

Topics Aadhaar | Law Ministry

According to sources, the Union law ministry is likely to prepare a Cabinet note soon to amend the Representation of the People Act, 1951.
The Centre is working on a Bill to amend the election law to mandatorily link Aadhaar with voter identity card. The objective is to clean up electoral rolls, remove duplication, and facilitate migrant workers to vote remotely. Sources in Opposition parties said the government — when the Bill is introduced and debated in Parliament — would need to allay their fears that this might become a tool to disenfranchise people.

According to sources, the Union law ministry is likely to prepare a Cabinet note soon to amend the Representation of the People Act, 1951.

The issue came up for discussion on Tuesday at a meeting between Election Commission (EC) officials and those of the Ministry of Law and Justice. The meeting was called to discuss pending electoral reforms.

Chief Election Commissioner Sunil Arora and Election Commissioners Ashok Lavasa and Sushil Chandra discussed the issue at a meeting with senior officials from the legislative department of the Ministry of Law and Justice, including Secretary Narayan Raju and Additional Secretary Rita Vashishth.

The law ministry is working on a Cabinet note to amend existing laws to empower the EC ‘statutory authority’ to collect Aadhaar numbers of both existing voter card holders and new applicants.

In August, the EC had written to the law ministry that the Representation of the People Act be amended to allow it to collect Aadhaar numbers of current/new voters. It could also entail amending the Aadhaar Act to allow for sharing the unique identification number. 

In 2015, the Supreme Court (SC) had restricted the use of Aadhaar, which had also halted the EC’s project to link Aadhaar numbers with voters’ electoral data as part of its national electoral roll purification and authentication programme. 

At the time the EC abandoned the project, it had seeded 320 million voter cards with Aadhaar. The EC sent the proposal again after the SC allowed for mandatory collection of Aadhaar last year.

At the meeting, Arora said there are more than 40 different proposals of electoral reforms which are pending and the EC is currently discussing some of these. 

He suggested meetings at regular intervals between the EC and the legislative department of the ministry to “pursue all such pending proposals”.

The officials also discussed the possibility of more than one qualification date in a year for becoming an elector, paid news and false affidavit as electoral offence/corrupt practice and substituting the term ‘wife’ with ‘spouse’ in Representation of the People Act to facilitate electoral registration of the spouse of women service officials in the category of service voter.



Business Standard is now on Telegram.
For insightful reports and views on business, markets, politics and other issues, subscribe to our official Telegram channel