Around 60% of India’s electors now have their Aadhaar number linked to their name on the voter rolls.



Activists have raised concerns on disenfranchisement, coercion and privacy as a result of the exercise, which has achieved saturation of over 90% in States like Tripura, which went to the polls recently, while lagging behind in Gujarat and Delhi, where only around 30% of the electorate has provided an Aadhaar number to election officials.


What are the concerns?

  • The proportionality test, laid down in the seminal right to privacy case (Puttaswamy I), lays strict parameters for state action that infringes on the right to privacy: It must be backed by a law, and this law must be a suitable means in pursuance of a legitimate state aim.
  • The ECI claims it needs to “purify” and de-duplicate the voter database by linking it with Aadhaar but hasn’t shown verifiable estimates of the extent of duplication in the voter ID database, nor an explanation for how Aadhaar linkage would help contain these duplicates.
  • On the contrary, the government’s previous attempts to link voter ID and Aadhaar offer evidence of the exclusionary harms this would cause.
  • In 2015, a SC order halted the National Election Roll Purification and Authentication Programme, which sought to link Aadhaar with voter IDs. (This order was upheld in the Court’s final judgment in Puttaswamy II.) Despite this order, the governments of Telangana and Andhra Pradesh went ahead and linked the two. The results of “purification” were disastrous. In 2018, at least 55 lakh voters found they had been arbitrarily deleted from the voter database. The likelihood of harm cannot be clearer.


Why is it unfair?

  • A law can be considered proportional only if there are no other less restrictive and equally effective alternatives. As the world’s largest democracy, India has a process for frequent revisions of voter lists, over multiple and recurring election cycles. The ECI has not shown why these traditional verification mechanisms don’t work, or how they can be fixed through technology.
  • Finally, a law can be considered proportional only if it doesnt have a disproportionate impact on the rights holder. The ECI doesn’t seem to have undertaken an analysis of the associated privacy harms, or the potential for exclusion through its proposal.
  • Articles 325 and 326 of our Constitution promise universal adult suffrage. Any disenfranchisement caused by the linking of Aadhaar and voter IDs would be legally impermissible, and particularly detrimental to those from marginalised communities and minority groups.


What is the government’s argument for bringing the Bill?

  • The government said that The Election Laws (Amendment) Bill, 2021 Act incorporates various electoral reforms that have been discussed for a long time.
  • The government says linking Aadhaar with electoral rolls will solve the problem of multiple enrolments of the same person at different places. Once Aadhaar linkage is achieved, the electoral roll data system will instantly alert the existence of previous registration(s) whenever a person applies for new registration.
  • The 105th report of the Department-Related Parliamentary Standing Committee on Personal, Public Grievances and Law and Justice report on demands of grants of the Law Ministry, presented in Rajya Sabha on March 6 this year, had said: “The Committee has been advocating linkage of unique Aadhaar ID Card number with voter I-card which would streamline alterations in Electors Photo Identity Card (EPIC) during change of ordinary residence by the electors. The incidence of multiple entry could also be eliminated which is required in participative democracy…”
  • In Parliament, Law Minister Kiren Rijiju said linking Aadhaar with the voter ID card“ is voluntary. It is not compulsory or mandatory”.