The Article 21 Trust joined the Rethink Aadhaar and other prominent citizens, including former civil servants, journalists, social activists, etc. and issued a statement, on 19th September 2021, strongly opposing the Election Commission of India’s move of linking Aadhaar with Voter ID of the citizens. The joint statement noted that the move was ill-thought, illogical and not necessary and the same could undermine the electoral democracy of India. The statement also raised concerns that the move could lead to mass disenfranchisement, and could increase voter fraud, given the mass discrepancies in the Aadhaar database, and could violate people’s right to privacy by enabling voter profiling through the linkage of data sets. The Statement also emphasized that the proposal was in violation of the judgment of the Supreme Court of India in Justice K.S. Puttaswamy (retd.) & Anr. v. Union Of India (Aadhaar judgment) which restricted the use of Aadhaar authentication solely to welfare programmes and to link with PAN numbers for the purposes of income tax.
Please click here to read the full statement.
On December 19, 2021, Article 21 Trust joined Rethink Aadhaar along with other civil and digital rights groups such as Amnesty International India, Citizen Forum for Civil Liberties, Internet Freedom Foundation, Maadhyam, People’s Union for Civil Liberties etc. and issued a statement strongly opposing the Government’s move of bringing amendment to the election laws in India. The Election Laws Amendment Bill, as proposed by the Government, among other things, contained a provision for the linking of the Aadhaar with Voter ID. Through the statement, earlier concerns of mass disenfranchisement, increase in vote fraud and violation of citizens’ privacy were reiterated. An appeal was made to the Government to withdraw the proposal and lawmakers were also requested to push the Government not to introduce the Bill without proper deliberations.
The full statement can be read here.
Media coverage of Aadhaar - Voter ID Linking work
National Media portals such as the Wire, NewsClick and Legal news portal the Leaflet reported the statement issued on September 19th, 2021.
Oped in the Indian Express titled “The proposal to link Aadhaar with voter ID is unconstitutional”
Writing on the third anniversary of the Constitutional Bench Judgement in KS Puttaswamy Judgement (Aadhaar), Maansi Verma, Trustee Article 21 Trust and Ria Singh Sawhney of Rethink Aadhaar campaign lamented how the Government continues to violate the constitutional red lines drawn by the Puttaswamy judgement. They argued that the government within a year of the verdict, amended the Aadhaar Act to permit the use of Aadhaar authentication for telecom and banking services which the Supreme Court has categorically struck down. They also raised concerns of linking Aadhaar with the Voter ID for voter verification and de-duplication of voter databases and how this practice is in complete violation of the proportionality test developed by the Supreme Court in Puttaswamy (privacy) judgement.
Please click here to read the complete article.
A story was carried out on this issue by Scroll titled ‘Aadhaar-voter ID linking is voluntary, says government – but law leaves little room to avoid it’
From August 1, 2022, the Election Commission of India commenced the drive of linking the Aadhaar with Voter ID. The Government had claimed in the Parliament that the process would be voluntary. However, there were incidents where the voters were informed by the election officers that non-linking of Aadhaar with Voter ID will lead to the deletion of the name of the voter from the voter list. In an interview with the Scroll, Maansi Verma, Advocate and Trustee of Article 21 Trust, raised concerns with regard to the linking of Aadhaar with the Voter ID. She noted that any officer reading the rules and the forms will come to the conclusion that Aadhaar and voter ID linking is mandatory. She also stressed that the Government’s claim that linking these two documents will weed out the duplicity of voter id, is unsubstantiated due to the report of CAG that noted that over 5 lacs duplicate Aadhaar were deleted from the list. Ms Verma also highlighted her concerns and said that the linking of these documents would lead to the violation of the fundamental right to privacy as held by the Supreme Court in the landmark judgment of Justice KS Puttaswamy (Rtrd) And Anr. vs. Union of India (Privacy Judgment). She said that the process would fail to pass the test of triple requirements as laid by the Supreme Court in Privacy Judgment.
Please click here to read the full article.
Oped in the Bastion titled ‘‘Through The Looking Glass: The Hidden Costs of Linking Aadhaar and Voter IDs”
Writing for Bastion, Ms. Maansi Verma, Trustee with Article 21 Trust highlighted that there may be an incalculable cost of Aadhaar and Voter ID linking if it compromises the rights of the citizens and especially the right to vote. She emphasized that in the name of the Purification of the electoral roll and removal of duplicate entries, ground realities must be taken into consideration. Due to internal migration within the country due to marriage, work, study, there are possibilities of duplicate entries but they are the genuine voters. The cost of disenfranchisement of such genuine voters is much too high for a democratic nation like India.
Click here to read the full article.
Another story on this issue was carried out by Logically titled “Double Check: Is it Compulsory for Indian Citizens to Link Their Voter IDs to Aadhaar?
On 9th February 2023, PIB posted a tweet refuting the claim that citizens needed to mandatorily link their voter IDs with their Aadhaar. The statement issued by the PIB was in response to a tweet by the Karnataka-based citizen’s collective Banglore Political Action Committee that claimed linking was mandatory under the Election Laws (Amendment) Bill, 2021.
Speaking to Logically, Maansi Verma, lawyer and trustee at Article 21 Trust said that “The exercise to link Aadhaar and Voter ID will be voluntary in the true sense only if a voter possessing an Aadhaar could exercise their discretion to link the same with voter ID or not,”. She further stated that however, as per the existing law, only a voter who doesn't have an Aadhaar can provide any other ID to authenticate their name on the electoral roll,”
To read the complete story, please click here