Biometrics disenfranchising a large number of citizens: Activists

A petition has reached the Delhi HC and has asked the Election Commission to consider a plea for an Aadhaar-based voting system, in response to a PIL filed by BJP member Ashwini Kumar Upadhyay

Photo Courtesy: NH
Photo Courtesy: NH

NH Web Desk

“UIDAI is not verified and even the card has no authorised signatory on it. This means there will be multiple people who do not exist on the database. UIDAI doesn’t need a person to be present,” highlights Usha Ramanathan.

“Now a BJP-affiliated lawyer has gone to court to ask for linking of Aadhaar with voter id. I don’t think the Courts have the jurisdiction to do this. The court’s job in all these cases is to preserve and protect the fundamental rights of the people and convenience and efficiency is no reason to act. This is being done under a Public Interest Litigation, which is not for state power to be asserted over people,” points out Usha Ramanathan, who was speaking in the Capital against a PIL filed in the Delhi High Court asking the Election Commission to link the voter id with the Aadhaar.

The ECI’s 2015 National Electoral Roll Purification and Authentication Programme (NERPAP) which involved linking Aadhaar with voter IDs resulted in deletion of nearly 55 lakh voters in Andhra Pradesh and Telangana. “Biometrics is disenfranchising a large number of people,” added Ramanathan.

A petition has reached the Delhi HC has asked the Election Commission of India (ECI), to consider a plea for an Aadhaar-based voting system, in response to a PIL filed by BJP member Ashwini Kumar Upadhyay. On July 16, the Delhi High Court directed the EC to respond in eight weeks.

“We must protest this PIL. This is a regressive step and will make it even more difficult for the citizens to vote. There are several deletions in the electoral rolls,” pointed out Prasanna, a lawyer who hopes to intervene in this case. He adds that the case must be dismissed.

“Two former election Commissioners have said that UIDAI has lobbied long and hard to link voter Id with Aadhaar as a way to legitimise the controversial biometric project and not to improve electoral rolls, says Jagdeep Chhokar, founder-member of Association of Democratic Reforms.

“Aadhaar and voter id are two different modes of identification and the two must not be confused as the former doesn’t define citizenship, but voter id does,” underscores Raghu, who works with Rethink Aadhaar.

“Aadhaar has become a hobby horse. It was earlier the hobby horse of one person and now it is the hobby horse of the government. People are being seduced by technology. They don’t understand that technology is only the means and not the end. You cannot deliver services over the net,” adds Chhokar.

Pointing towards a report on Aadhaar, Raghu said, “even the Omidiyar Network’s state of Aadhaar report points out that self-reported data errors in Aadhaar data is 1.5 times more than similar errors in electoral rolls. If linked, it will create even more errors in the electoral rolls.

This issue assumes even more significance in the light of a letter recently written by the Chief Minister of Maharashtra to the ECI recommending the linkage of Aadhaar with voter IDs.

The petition proposes an e-voting system using fingerprint and face biometric” and, for that purpose, linking of Aadhaar number with voter ID. Such a system, the petition claims, will lead to an increase in voting percentage while also preventing bogus or fraudulent voting.

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Published: 25 Jul 2019, 8:35 PM