On Aadhaar and Voter ID linking
Op-ed 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. the y noted that the technological fixes can not be used to address the socio-political issues, nor can they be allowed to imperil our constitutional rights, as argued by Justice DY Chandrachud in his dissent in the Aadhaar Judgment. They emphasised that the ECI must not be allowed to link Aadhaar with Voter ID and this news to be resisted as being constitutionally void, detrimental to the right to privacy and democratic right to vote.
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A story was carried out on this issue by Scroll titled ‘Aadhaar-voter ID linking is voluntary, says government – but the law leaves little room to avoid it’
From August 1, 2022, the Election Commission of India commenced the drive to link 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 would 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.
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Op-ed in the Bastion titled ‘‘Through The Looking Glass: The Hidden Costs of Linking Aadhaar and Voter IDs”
Writing for Bastion, on linking of Aadhaar with voter IDs, Maansi Verma, Lawyer and Trustee with Article 21 Trust highlighted that through the financial memorandum of the Election Laws (Amendment) Bill, 2021 the claim of the Government is that the Bill is unlikely to involve expenditure from the Consolidate Fund of India, however, 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. The recommendation to link Aadhaar with voter ID was first featured in the 101st report of the standing committee of the parliament. As per the report, the ECI had initiated the National Electoral Roll Purification and Authentication Programme (NERPAP) in 2015 to weed out the duplication in an electoral roll using Aadhaa, however the same was stayed by the Supreme Court in the Puttaswamy case. The 105th and 107th reports also made the ground for linking the Aadhaar with voter ID. Though it was clarified that policy envisions linking as voluntary, however, lakhs of voters in the 2018 Telangana Assembly elections found their names deleted from the electoral roll. The RTI revealed that their Aadhaar were collected under NERPAP before it was halted by the Supreme Court. 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, and 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.
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