The controversial law to link Aadhaar and Voter Identity Card has been challenged in the Supreme Court, with Congress’s Randeep Singh Surjewala demanding that it be scrapped. In his petition, Mr Surjewala has called the law “unfair” and a violation of the rights to privacy and equality. The Supreme Court will hear the case tomorrow.
The project to link Aadhaar with electoral data has been initiated by the Election Commission as part of the electoral reforms process. The idea is to stop multiple entries in the ballots and make them error-free.
The Electoral Laws (Amendment) Act allows electoral registration officers to seek the Aadhaar number of people who want to register as voters “for the purpose of establishing identity”.
The government has argued that it is meant to weed out fake voters by stopping people from registering their names on electoral rolls in several states.
Opponents have argued that allowing the Aadhaar-voter ID link could lead to more non-citizens voting in the country.
Congress has been campaigning against the bill, accusing it of being rushed through Congress in the Winter without any real debate on its possible flaws. The bill was passed by both houses within 24 hours.
Apart from Congress, MK Stalin’s DMK, Sharad Pawar’s Nationalist Congress Party, Trinamool Congress, Shiv Sena and BSP have opposed the new laws.
Trinamool MP Derek O’Brien has been suspended after he was accused of throwing a bill at the Rajya Sabha Speaker during protests on the bill.
“Aadhar is meant to be a proof of residence, not citizenship,” MP Shashi Tharoor has said. “If you are applying for an Aadhar card from a voter, all you get is a document that shows residence. It has the power to give voting rights to non-citizens,” he added.
Under the Supreme Court’s right to privacy rule, seeding Aadhaar with voter identity cards will be voluntary. Law Minister Kiren Rijiju has insisted that the merger will be voluntary.
“It will be voluntary and not mandatory to link voter ID card with Aadhaar. Even if a citizen does not have an Aadhaar card, his name will not be deleted from the ballot papers. If he is 18 years and his name is in voter list. … then you are a voter,” Mr Rijiju had told NDTV during an exclusive interview.