The names of those whose voter identity cards are not linked with Aadhaar will not be struck off the voters list, Law Minister Kiren Rijiju said on Friday, reported PTI.

Aadhaar refers to the unique 12-digit identification number assigned to Indian residents on the basis of their biometric data.

“The Election Laws [Amendment] Act, 2021, allows electoral registration officers to require the existing or prospective elector to provide the Aadhaar number for the purpose of establishing identity on a voluntary basis,” Rijiju said in the Lok Sabha.

It is voluntary to link Aadhaar with a voter ID and consent is obtained from the voter for Aadhaar authentication in Form 6B, which was recently introduced, the law minister said. However, he added that “there is no provision for withdrawing the consent” to share Aadhaar details.

On August 1, the Election Commission had launched a programme to link Aadhaar with voter IDs in order to weed out duplicates in the electoral rolls. While the Union government had also said that the process would be voluntary, several voters reported receiving calls from election officials telling them it was compulsory to link the two.

On Friday, Rijiju said that the Election Commission adheres to the guidelines prescribed by the Unique Identification Authority of India or UIDAI and does not store the Aadhaar numbers in its database. The Aadhaar number is used only for authentication purposes and the Election Commission does not retrieve any personal information from the UIDAI database, he said.

The Centre’s move to link the electoral roll with Aadhaar under the Election Laws (Amendment) Act, 2021, has been challenged in the Supreme Court. The petition had said that right to vote is one of the most sacred rights and it should not be denied if an individual lacks Aadhaar.