Terming the exercise to link Aadhaar with election photo identity card (EPIC) as ‘voluntary,’ Law Minister Kiren Rijiju on December 16, 2022 told the Lok Sabha said that people who don’t link their Aadhaar with EPIC will not be struck off the voters list.
In response to another question on whether the government would consider banning opinion polls after the announcement of election schedule, the Law Minister replied in the negative.
Replying to a written question on linking of Aadhaar with EPIC, Mr. Rijiju said, “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.”
He was responding to a question by Congress MP Pradyut Bordoloi, BSP’s Ritesh Pandey and AIMIM’s Syed Imtiaz Jaleel on the linkage of Aadhaar with electoral rolls.
Asked whether the name of the voters whose voter IDs are not linked with Aadhaar will be struck off from the voters’ list, the Minister said, ”No”. However, he made it clear that “there is no provision for withdrawing the consent to share Aadhaar details”.
On Thursday, Mr. Rijiju had informed the Rajya Sabha that more than 54 crore of the nearly 95 crore total voters have opted to link their Aadhaar details with voter ID. The Election Commission had launched a programme to collect the Aadhaar number of existing and prospective electors on a voluntary basis from August 1 in all States and Union Territories.
The Minister said linking of Aadhaar is “process driven” and “no targets have been given” for linking Aadhaar with EPIC. He said that the Unique Identification Authority of India (UlDAl), under the Aadhaar (Targeted Delivery of Financial and other Subsidies, Benefits and Services) Act, 2016 has made it compulsory for the centralised storage of all Aadhaar numbers in a different repository known as ‘Aadhaar Data Vault’.
“The Election Commission strictly follows the guidelines prescribed by UIDAI and does not store the Aadhaar numbers in its database. The Aadhaar number is used only for authentication purposes and EC does not retrieve any personal information from the UIDAI Aadhaar database,” Mr. Rijiju noted.
Responding to a question by AIUDF’s Badruddin Ajmal on banning opinion and exit polls soon after the announcement of election schedule, Mr. Rijiju said, “In order to have free and fair elections in the country, there exists a restriction on the conduct of any exit poll, and publishing or publicise by any means, the result of any exit poll during the period starting from the commencement of polls till half an hour after the closing of the poll in all the States and Union Territories. No such proposal as regards ban on opinion poll is under consideration”.
In yet another written response, the Law Minister also categorically ruled out any proposal to allow proxy voting for Non-Resident Indians.