31 Oct 2022 10:17 AM GMT
The Supreme Court of India on Monday issued notice in a petition challenging the power of the Election Commission of India to use the Aadhaar database in the process of deletion and updation of entries in the electoral roll. Specifically, the petition filed by former Army General S.G. Vombatkere challenges the constitutional vires of the Election Laws (Amendment) Act, 2021 and...
The Supreme Court of India on Monday issued notice in a petition challenging the power of the Election Commission of India to use the Aadhaar database in the process of deletion and updation of entries in the electoral roll.
Specifically, the petition filed by former Army General S.G. Vombatkere challenges the constitutional vires of the Election Laws (Amendment) Act, 2021 and amended Sec. 23 and Sec. 28 of the Representation of People's Act, 1950 and the Registration of Electors (Amendment) Rules, 2022 and two notifications regarding Aadhaar-Voter Card linkage.
A Bench of Justices Sanjay Kishan Kaul and Abhay Shreeniwas Oka, while issuing notice, directed that the matter be tagged with two other petitions with similar prayers.
Senior Advocate Shyam Divan, appearing for the petitioner, argued that as per the Supreme Court judgment which upheld the Aadhaar Act 2016, Aadhaar card can be used only for providing benefits and cannot be insisted when a citizen is exercising rights. He contended that the right to vote cannot be denied on the ground of not having Aadhaar card.
"Your argument seems to be that one lacking Aadhaar, voting should not be denied or even on having it, shouldn't be compulsory", Justice Kaul said.
"Your contention is you have Aadhaar and passport, but you are not being allowed to rely solely on passport", Justice Oka asked.
"Right to voting is one of the most sacred rights", the senior advocate said.
After the court passed its order, the Justice Oka pointed out that these alternatives (if there's no Aadhaar card) may not even be available to people in the tribal areas.
"There's a specific section under Aadhaar Act which states that Aadhaar number is not proof of citizenship. By conflicting with that concept with electoral roll etc, there may be a set of other issues. We will address those as well", Divan said.
As per the petition, the exercise sanctioned under the impugned Act, Rules and the notifications pose a major threat to the independence of the Election Commission as the preparation of electoral rolls is made dependent on the processes and systems of Aadhaar/UIDAI that it has no control over.
" This threatens electoral democracy which is a basic feature of India's constitution", the plea highlights.
Further, the petition states that through the Impugned Act and Rules issued by the Union Government, the Election Commission of India seeks to mandate people to link their Aadhaar numbers to the electoral rolls.
"This proposed linkage would have a detrimental impact on people's ability to exercise their constitutional and legal right to vote, as it is reasonably certain to cause mass disenfranchisement, through mass exclusions from voter rolls as people are removed from the voter list without due process."
Also, the Aadhaar – ECI database linking, compromises the secrecy of the vote which is fundamental to the free exercise of electoral choice, the plea adds.
Therefore, the petition seeks to
The matter is likely to heard next on December 16.
Case Title: S.G. Vombatkere Versus Union of India & Ors. | Writ Petition (Civil) No. 848 Of 2022
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