Plea In SC For Linking Election Identity Cards, Movable And Immovable Property Documents With Aadhaar [Read Petition]

A Petition has been filed before the Supreme Court seeking a direction to the Election Commission of India (ECI) to implement ‘Aadhaar Based Election Voting System’, in order to curtail bogus votes and ensure maximum participation.

"...as on date, the Aadhaar database is the most authenticate database of the citizens and chances of duplication in Aadhaar is almost negligible as it is beyond the realms of possibility and probability to fudge biometric details which is a pre-condition for Aadhaar enrollment. In the given circumstances, the use of Aadhaar details by the Election Commission will not only improve the overall health of electoral rolls by enabling deletion of duplicate entries but would also enable the Election Commission to provide additional services," it contends.

In the alternative, the Petition, filed by BJP leader and Advocate Ashwini Kumar Upadhyay has demanded that election identity cards be linked with Aadhaar in order to crack down on duplicate or fake votes.

The Petition contends that fake, duplicate or bogus votes violate the rights of the citizens guaranteed under Articles 14, 325 and 326 of the Constitution of India in two ways:

"(i) It prevents free exercise of “right to vote” and “one man one vote” due to use of money and muscle power. (ii) It effects ordinary citizen’s rights to get elected and puts him to great disadvantage due to reduced win-ability factor as the fake and fabricated votes are generally polled in favour of candidates having money and muscle power."

It alleges that the current voting system is "less transparent" and that the main challenges faced by the current system are inter alia authentication of voters, security of the voting process and protection of voted data. The proposed system, it submits, would use fingerprint and face biometric to cast votes through an e-voting system, in order to tackle these issues.

The Petition, however, clarifies that the voter should not be denied his right to vote for not submitting Aadhaar details, contending, "...use of the Aadhaar data by the Election Commission may be mandatory but petitioner feels that the Election Commission should not deny the electoral roll to a person who is not willing to submit his/her Aadhaar details. Petitioner feels that linking of Aadhaar is not only necessary to ensure free and fair election but also to curtail fake and fabricated electoral rolls."

Mr. Upadhyay further makes reference to the National Electoral Roll Purification and Authentication Programme (NERPAP) launched by the ECI in March, 2015, proposing to authenticate entries/ data of electors with their respective Aadhaar Numbers.

He then explains, "By using the Organic Aadhaar seeding, UIDs of residents will be included in the Electoral database of Election Commission of India for enabling the Aadhaar based authentication during Voter transactions. One critical input for leveraging Aadhaar authentication is Aadhaar number (UID) itself which needs to be captured and stored along with the current unique identifier i.e. EPIC number in ECI database. When each of the voter is uniquely identified, the database of the Voters can be cleaned for:

(i) All voters who are non-existent (As non-existent persons cannot get UID) (ii) All the voters who are claiming the benefits more than once, as a UID can occur only once in the database and one person can have only one UID. (iii) Of all voters who are claiming benefits in the name of the others. Such persons will not be able to authenticate themselves."

Linking Aadhaar with property documents

The Petition also demands that movable and immovable property documents be linked with Aadhaar, so that benami transactions can be tackled.

It explains, "Since most people already have an Aadhaar number, asking them to link it to their property documents is a better option. The main advantage of this strategy is that the tax authorities will get details about 'legal owners' (owner as per property documents) immediately. Several historical property deals might have happened in fictitious names and they will get stuck immediately. Several black money hoarders also used to register properties in other's name (e.g. in the name of servants, some family members who are poor, etc) after getting their signatures (these poor people have no idea what these signatures are meant for). In these cases, the original property documents are kept by the 'original owners' and in most cases, they also keep power of attorney signed by 'legal owners'.

Once the Aadhaar linkage happens, tax authorities can approach the 'legal owners' and it can be treated as benami property if the 'legal owners are unaware or denies knowledge of the ownership'. Even if the 'legal owner' takes onus and claims that it is his property, he needs to show the 'source of income' for buying that property (It will be difficult for a house maid to show source for property worth crores)."

Read the Petition Here