The Union government may soon notify rules linking Aadhaar with voter identification cards, outgoing Chief Election Commissioner Sushil Chandra said, PTI reported on Saturday. Chandra made the statement in an interview to the news agency a day ahead of the end of his tenure.
Chandra said that the sharing of Aadhaar details will be voluntary, but voters will need to give sufficient reason for not linking the unique identification number to their voter ID cards.
“The reason may include not having an Aadhaar or not having applied for one or any other reason they can think of,” he said. “I cannot think of any other reason.”
He added that the Election Commission has sent a draft proposal to the government on the matter, and the rules may be notified very soon. Linking Aadhaar with voter ID cards will help weed out duplicate entries and make the electoral rolls more robust, Chandra said.
The poll panel chief also said that through this linkage, the Election Commission would be able to provide more services to voters.
“If we know about the voter more clearly, then we can give more services such as when the elections will be held and booth [details] on their phone numbers,” he said. “... We should know clearly that he/she is the right person.”
The Union Cabinet had approved the voluntary linking of Aadhaar with voter ID cards in December. However, activists have expressed concerns that this could lead to voters being excluded from the rolls and compromise the privacy of their data.
In March 2015, the Election Commission had launched a nationwide project to link Aadhaar to voter ID cards. A month before that, it had run a pilot project in Telangana. The project was stopped after a Supreme Court judgement in October that laid down limitations on the purposes for which Aadhaar could be used. Voter identification was not among the purposes.
However, during the project, state election commissions were found to have used data collected for other schemes without consent, a Scroll.in investigation in February 2019 showed.