New Delhi, September 21
Maintaining that Aadhaar number details are not mandatory for enrolment as a voter, the Election Commission has told the Supreme Court that it will make appropriate changes to clarify the position.
“The submission of the Aadhaar number is not mandatory under Rule 26-B of the Registration of Electors (Amendment) Rules, 2022 and hence the Election Commission is looking into issuing appropriate clarificatory changes in the forms introduced for that purpose,” senior counsel Sukumar Pattjoshi told a Bench led by CJI DY Chandrachud on behalf of the poll panel.
He, however, said nearly 66.23 crore Aadhaar numbers had already been uploaded in the process of finalising electoral rolls.
The Election commission’s submission came in response to a petition filed by G Niranjan who had raised certain issues with regard to Form 6 (Application Form for new voters) and Form 6B (Letter of Information of Aadhaar number for the purpose of electoral roll authentication) of the ECI forms for registration in e-roll.
In view of the poll panel’s submission that Aadhaar number was not mandatory for enrolment as a voter, the Bench – which also included Justice JB Pardiwala, and Justice Manoj Misra – disposed his petition on Monday.
Notified by the Centre in June 2022, the Registration of Electors (Amendment) Rules, 2022 provide for linking Aadhaar number with election ID cards. Form 6B is the application form by which a voter can inform the Aadhaar number for the purpose of electoral roll authentication.
The 2022 Rules were framed following the passage of the Election Laws (Amendment) Bill, 2021, which 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.
The Election Commission had in July 2022 launched a programme to collect Aadhaar numbers of existing and prospective electors on a voluntary basis from August 1, 2022 in all states and union territories.
Though it’s voluntary to link Aadhaar with voter ID and consent is obtained from the elector for Aadhaar authentication in Form 6B, there is no provision for withdrawing the consent.
A petition against the Election Laws (Amendment) Act, 2021, was already pending in the Supreme Court.
In December 2022, the Government had told Parliament that names of the voters whose voter IDs were not linked with Aadhaar will not be deleted from the voter list as linking Aadhaar number with voter ID was voluntary and consent of the elector was required for it.
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