The Times of India reported on July 22 that Maharashtra Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis had written to India’s Chief Election Commissioner Sunil Arora regarding linking voter IDs with the Aadhaar number. The report quoted Fadnavis as saying “that this linkage will help prevent bogus and ensure that there is proper identification of voters”. A subsequent report on July 26 quoted Election Commission of India (ECI) sources as saying that linking of Aadhaar with voter IDs may not be feasible prior to the Maharashtra state assembly elections. Both reports mention plans of amending the Representation of People’s Act, 1951, allowing for such linking. 

We believe this is a cause for continued concern, especially since the Maharashtra government is pushing Aadhaar-voter ID linking through the state’s Chief Electoral Officer’s website and mobile application. Citizens must therefore remain vigilant in protesting large-scale linking of Aadhaar and voter IDs. The Cambridge Analytica episode in the US revealed the dangers of voter profiling. In  Andhra Pradesh earlier this year, the Telugu Desam Party was accused of misusing Aadhaar and demographic data – including names, photographs, caste information, and family details – of 3.7 crore voters.

More than 1,000 civil society organisations and concerned citizens have signed a letter demanding that the Maharashtra State government immediately halt use of the Aadhaar number or Aadhaar authentication for any processed connected with the state elections. Some of the chief concerns stated in the letter include:

  • The Maharashtra Government has transferred money for subsidies and welfare benefits through the Direct Benefit Transfer (DBT) scheme to Aadhaar-linked bank accounts which constitutes direct targeting of voters and is therefore a corrupt practice per Section 123(1) of the Representation of the People Act, 1951.
  • Further, Aadhaar linking has eased authorizing election expenditure in contravention of Section 77 of the Representation of the People Act, 1951, by allowing fund transfers to  Aadhaar numbers in control of unknown persons.
  • The use of the Aadhaar number, or documents obtained solely using Aadhaar, to add and delete electors has enabled taking possession of a polling station by allowing only their own supporters to exercise their right to vote and or preventing others from exercising their right to vote. This is tantamount to booth capturing as per Section 135A of the Representation of the People Act, 1951.
  1. All India Progressive Women’s Association (AIPWA) 2. All India Students’ Progressive Association (AISA)
  2. ANHAD
  3. Bebaak Collective
  4. Committee for Protection of Democratic Rights (CPDR)
  5. Democratic Youth Federation of India (DYFI)
  6. Financial Accountability Network
  7. Forum against Oppression Women
  8. Ghar Bachao Ghar Banao Andolan,
  9. Habitat and Livelihood Welfare Association
  10. International Human rights Organisation Network (IHRO)
  11. Jan Swasthya Abhiyaan, Mumbai
  12. Kachra Vahatuk Shramik Sangh
  13. LABIA A queer Feminist LBT Collective
  14. Mazdoor Kisan Shakti Sanghathan- MKSS
  15. MoneyLife Foundation
  16. National Alliance of Peoples Movements (NAPM)
  17. National Federation of Hawkers
  18. Pani Haq Samiti, Mumbai
  19. People Union of Civil Liberties (PUCL),
  20. Police Reform Watch
  21. Rethink Aadhaar
  22. Sahaj
  23. Saheli
  24. Say No 2 UID
  25. Say No to Aadhaar- Campaign,
  26. Vasudha Kendra
  27. Vimochana

Full letter link