Millennium Post

Bill likely in next Budget session to allow EC link Aadhaar with voters' list

New Delhi: The government is likely to bring a bill in the Budget session of Parliament to give the Election Commission statutory backing to collect the Aadhaar number of new applicants and existing voters to check multiple entries in electoral rolls.

Accepting the proposal to give it legal backing to collect Aadhaar data, the Law Ministry is learnt to have asked the poll panel to ensure that the data is protected at multiple levels.

The EC recently listed out steps to protect the data from possible leaks.

In a letter to the Law Ministry, the Commission recently proposed that provisions of the Representation of the People Act be amended to allow EC seek Aadhaar numbers of those applying to be voters and those who are already part of the electoral rolls.

Sources said the ministry would soon move the Union Cabinet to bring a bill to amend the electoral law. "Action is being taken," a senior ministry functionary said.

According to the EC proposal sent in August last year, the electoral law should be amended to empower electoral registration officers to seek Aadhaar number of existing voters as well as of those applying to enrol themselves in the voters' list. In August 2015, a Supreme Court order on Aadhaar put brakes on Election Commission's project to link UIDAI (Aadhaar) number with voters' electoral data to check multiple entries in electoral rolls.

The poll panel was then collecting Aadhaar number as part of its National Electoral Roll Purification and Authentication Programme (NERPAP).

Seeking to check multiple entries in electoral rolls and to make them error-free, the Election Commission had embarked on an ambitious project to link Aadhaar numbers with electoral data.

"Since the Supreme Court order makes it clear that sanction of law is required to collect Aadhaar number, the Commission has proposed changes in electoral law," a poll panel functionary explained.

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