Aadhaar Card Issues

Concerns with linking Aadhaar with Voter IDs


From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level: Aadhaar

Mains level: Aadhaar-Voter ID linkage


Central idea: The article discusses the potential issues and concerns related to the Indian government’s proposal to link Aadhaar with Voter IDs.

Total Aadhaar-Voter ID linkages

  • Around 60% of India’s electors now have their Aadhaar number linked to their name on the voter rolls.
  • It has achieved saturation of over 90% in States like Tripura, which went to the polls recently.
  • States like Gujarat and Delhi are lagging where only around 30% of the electorate has provided an Aadhaar number to election officials.

What is the move about?

  • The linking is being carried out by filling Form 6B, which is provided by election officials going door-to-door to collect Aadhaar or alternate ID from registered voters.
  • The form was the result of the Election Laws (Amendment) Act passed in 2021 to allow the linking of Voter IDs and Aadhaar.
  • While the Election Commission (EC) maintains that providing an Aadhaar is optional, Form 6B requires voters to declare that they do not have an Aadhaar to avoid providing the number.

Aadhaar-Voter ID linkage: Why does the government want this?

  • Accurate voter’s record: The EC conducts regular exercises to maintain an updated and accurate recordof the voter base.
  • Avoid duplicate voters: A part of this exercise is to weed out duplication of voters.
  • Identify unique voters: As per the government, linkage of Aadhaar with voter IDs will assist in ensuring that only one Voter ID is issued per citizen of India.

Is the linking of Aadhaar with one’s Voter ID mandatory?

  • In December 2021, Parliament passed the Election Laws (Amendment) Act, 2021.
  • This was to amend the Representation of the People Act, 1950and Section 23(4) was inserted in the RP Act.
  • It states that the electoral registration officerMAY require voters to furnish their Aadhaar numbers to verify Authencity of voters list.

Why there is such proposal for linking?

The preference to use Aadhaar for verification and authentication, both by the state and private sector, stems from few reasons:

  • Increase in UID-holders:First, at the end of 2021, 99.7% of the adult Indian population had an Aadhaar card.
  • Most versatile document:This coverage exceeds that of any other officially valid document such as driver’s licence, ration cards, PAN cards etc. that are mostly applied for specific purposes.
  • Reliable source of authentication:Since Aadhaar allows for biometric authentication, Aadhaar based authentication and verification is considered more reliable, quicker and cost efficient when compared to other IDs.

Issues with mandatory linking: Puttaswamy judgment highlights

  • Puttaswamy judgment:The above reasons do not suffice the mandating of Aadhaar except in limited circumstances as per the Puttaswamy judgment.
  • Indispensability of the purpose:It needs to be considered whether such mandatory linkage of Aadhaar with Voter ID would pass the test of being “necessary and proportionate” to the purpose of de-duplication which is sought to be achieved.
  • Constitutional ambiguity:In Puttaswamy, one of the questions that the Supreme Court explored was whether the mandatory linking of Aadhaar with bank accounts was constitutional or not.
  • Against informational autonomy: It is the right to privacy which would allow a person to decide which official document they want to use for verification and authentication.
  • Disenfranchisement: Some fear that linking Aadhaar with Voter IDs may exclude certain groups of people, such as those who do not have an Aadhaar card.

Other judicial observations: Lal Babu Hussein (1995) Case

  • The Supreme Court had held that the Right to vote cannot be disallowed by insisting only on four proofs of identity.
  • The voters are entitled to rely on any other proof of identity and obtain the right to vote.

What are the operational difficulties?

  • Aadhaar is not a citizenship proof:The preference to Aadhaar for the purposes of determining voters is puzzling as Aadhaar is only a proof of residence and not a proof of citizenship.
  • Excluding non-citizens is not easy:Verifying voter identity against this will only help in tackling duplication but will not remove voters who are not citizens of India from the electoral rolls.
  • Estimate of error rates in biometric based authentication:This certainly differs. As per the UIDAI in 2018, Aadhaar based biometric authentication had a 12% error rate.
  • Disenfranchisement of existing voters:Errors have led to the disenfranchisement of around 30 lakh voters in AP and Telangana before the Supreme Court stalled the process of linkage.

Key concern: Right to Privacy

  • Some civil societies has highlighted that linking of the two databases of electoral rolls and Aadhaar could lead to the linkage of Aadhaar’s “demographic” information with voter ID information.
  • This could lead to violation of the right to privacy and surveillance measures by the state.
  • This would leave the EC with the option of verifying its information only through door-to-door checks.
  • There is a lack of enforceable data protection principlesthat regulate how authentication data will be used.

Way forward

  • The govt should expedite the enactment of a data protection legislation that allays concerns of unauthorized processing of personal data held by the government.


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