Govt notifies rules allowing linking of Aadhar numbers with electoral roll data

The central government on Friday notified the rules allowing the linking of Aadhar numbers with electoral roll data, an official notification of the Ministry of Law and Justice said. In a gazette notification on June 17, the ministry said that the amendments were being done after consultations with the Election Commission of India.

Earlier on Friday, Law Minister Kiren Rijiju took to Twitter to share a tweet detailing four government decisions. Other than linking Aadhaar with electoral roll data, the central government has also allowed new voters to be registered four times a year, instead of the present once, and replaced the word “wife” with spouse, making the form more gender-neutral.

“A citizen who turns 18 on the January 1 or April 1 or July 1 or October 1 in a calendar year can immediately apply for voter registration. The four qualifying dates will considerably enhance the voter base,” Rijiju said in his tweet.

The bill to allow the linking was passed by the Lok Sabha in December last year by a voice vote and has been criticised by privacy policy experts.

“It is a dangerous law that will undermine electoral democracy; free and fair elections; individual privacy. We have no data protection law. The one under consideration is leaky as a sieve,” Apar Gupta of the Internet Freedom Foundation had then said.

The central government has, however, defended the move arguing that the linking of Aadhaar numbers to voter identity was key to weeding out fake and duplicate voter cards and making elections fair and transparent.

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Though the government has said that the linking of Aadhaar numbers to electoral rolls is voluntary, privacy experts have pointed out that there is an absence of choice in the forms.

“There is an absence of choice in the forms to the provision of Aadhaar. The only exception is for those who, “don’t have a Aadhaar number”. Any false declaration is liable to prosecution. Hence, there is a mandatory provision for Aadhaar with electoral rolls,” Gupta said in his tweet on Saturday.

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