Aadhaar-Voter ID linking untenable

Petitions and moves to link the election photo identity cards (EPIC) with Aadhaar are wrong, ill-conceived and against the spirit of the recent Supreme Court judgement on the validity of the Aadhaar scheme. There is no good reason to support the seeding of the voter identity cards with Aadhaar. On the contrary, there are many reasons that make it a bad and unacceptable idea. Recently, the Madras high court issued notices to the Unique Identification Authority of India (UIDAI) and the Centre on a petition seeking to link electoral rolls and voter cards with Aadhaar. The petition said that the linking would reduce electoral malpractices. The Election Commission, which is known to favour the idea, told the court that it has no objection to it but may have to study it in the light of the Supreme Court judgement. 

There is a basic mismatch between the voter identity card and the Aadhaar both in concept and purpose. A voter identity card is a proof of citizenship while Aadhaar is only a residential or biometric record. The electoral card enables a person to vote and serves as a reliable proof of personal details like age and residence. It is not open to misuse as the Aadhaar often is, and does not gain in legality or usefulness from its association with Aadhaar. It may actually become vulnerable to misuse with the Aadhaar link. The use of electoral cards has helped to reduce electoral malpractices. A link-up with Aadhaar will not help to reduce them any further. The Supreme Court, in its judgement, has limited the use of Aadhaar to only availing the benefits of schemes that draw money from the Consolidated Fund of India, and for linking it to the PAN number for filing of IT returns. Linking voter identity cards with Aadhaar is beyond the scope of Aadhaar defined by the judgement. 

When a voter identity card is linked to Aadhaar, which in turn is linked to income tax returns and PAN, it will be possible to classify and profile voters on the basis of their income. This will help political parties to target their promises, frame their strategies and reach out to citizens on the basis of income and class. There have been fears that such linked data may be misused in exercises relating to delimitation of constituencies. Parties in power which have access to such data will be able to misuse them in many ways. The Election Commission had started the linking in 2015 but stopped it when the Supreme Court stayed it. The move to revive it should be opposed as it can hurt electoral democracy.  

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Aadhaar-Voter ID linking untenable

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