The union government has decided to amend the Aadhaar Act to legally empower the Election Commission to link the unique identification number with the electoral roll, aiding them to remove bogus and duplicate entries. The new reform will also pave the way for giving “remote” voting rights to migrant voters, reports Times of India.
According to the reports, the law ministry is working on the proposal to be put up before the Union Cabinet for approval in the coming weeks as it would require amendments to the Representation of People’s Act (RPA), 1951. The new process, apart from sanitising the electoral roll, will save internal migrants from “disenfranchisement” by changing the current practice, allowing them to vote only if they are in the constituency where they are registered as voters.
The Law Ministry has conveyed this to the Election Commission at a meeting on Tuesday. Chief Election Commissioner Sunil Arora, along with Election Commissioners Ashok Lavasa and Sushil Chandra met Law Secretary Narayan Raju and on Tuesday to discuss the pending electoral reforms.
At the meeting, Chief election commissioner Sunil Arora stressed on the need for the law ministry to fast-track implementation of reforms proposed by the Election Commission and urged to hold regular discussions with the EC to review progress.
Reportedly, Law secretary Narayan Raju has assured the poll panel that the ministry was examining the 40 electoral reforms proposed by the EC and that each was at a different stage of discussion.
On seeding of the electoral photo identity card (EPIC) with the 12-digit Aadhaar number, the law secretary said the government was favourably inclined and a Cabinet note would be moved soon to amend the Aadhaar Act.
The EC officials said Aadhaar-EPIC linkage will help realise the ECI plan to work towards secure, possibly electronic, voting to help migrant voters — including domestic workers, migrant labourers etc — exercise their franchise.
“Their identification having been adequately verified, the commission can explore technology that will let them vote from a remote location guarded by the EC,” an officer said.
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In 2015, the ECI had taken up linking of voter card and Aadhaar number as part of its National Electoral Roll Purification and Authentication Programme. Around 32 crore Aadhaar numbers were seeded by the time. However, the EC decided to abandon the programme in view of the Supreme Court judgment restricting the use of Aadhaar.
Following the SC judgment last year allowing the mandatory collection of Aadhaar with a due amendment in the Aadhaar Act, the EC had written to the law ministry seeking an amendment to enable linking of EPIC with Aadhaar. The law ministry had in-principle agreed and a Cabinet note is being prepared.
In a letter to the Ministry of Law in August last year, the EC had stated it would be in the “national interest” to link Aadhaar with voter IDs to cleanse the electoral rolls and prevent duplication of voters. The EC had also asked the ministry to make necessary legal amendments for the linkage.