Prabhat Sinha is the Co-founder & Managing Partner of Global IT MNC Intelligenz IT. He is an Amazon Bestseller Author, Entrepreneur, and International Speaker. By education, Prabhat holds MBA & LLB degrees from prestigious universities. Prabhat is an active columnist and writes on issues related to IT, Commerce, Entrepreneurship, International Business, Innovation & Productivity.
The importance of the Aadhaar card has been increasing rapidly over the years. First the bank account, then the PAN card, then gradually all government schemes are linked to the Aadhaar card. Whether it is the National Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme, the Public Distribution System, the old-age pension, or the unemployment allowance, AADHAR has become mandatory to avail benefits of any scheme. The recent amendment to the Representation of the People Act, under which linking voter ID cards with the Aadhaar card is an important rule, indicates the increasing importance of the Aadhaar card.
The Representation of the People Act was enacted in 1950 to ensure our country’s smooth conduct of parliamentary elections. The Act of 1950 explains the allocation of seats for elections and delimitation of constituencies, eligibility of voters, and preparation of electoral rolls. In 1951, the Act was expanded to provide rules for offences and disputes relating to the conduct of elections. The establishment of The Election Commission of India as an autonomous body under the Representation of the People Act was an important decision. The Election Commission has achieved many dimensions in the last few decades towards conducting impeccable, transparent, and fair elections through new regulations, advancements, and technology. However, bogus voting and enrolling one citizen as voters in many places is still a significant problem to be solved. To solve present problems, the Government of India moved a new amendment to the Representation of the People Act on December 20, 2021, which was also passed by both the Houses of Parliament.
As per the newly amended rule, the Aadhaar card has to be presented as an identity card for voter registration. If the voter is already registered, their identity will be verified with an Aadhaar card. However, there is also a provision to submit another Identity Card in case of non-availability and error in the Aadhaar card. Similarly, per prior laws, the qualification in the voter register was considered only at the beginning of the year on January 1. It means a citizen who turns 18 on January 2 had to wait till January 1 next year to join the electoral rolls. As per the amended rule, citizens who have completed 18 years on January 1, April 1, July 1, and October 1 can also join the electoral rolls.
Aadhaar card stores personal information other than biometric data related to the person for verification purposes. But misuse of personal data stored in Aadhaar cards is a common problem now. Recently we heard the news of misuse of Aadhaar data in the local elections of Puducherry in 2021. Several discrepancies have been found in the Aadhaar card, such as errors in name, father’s name, address, etc., the disparity in fingerprint or other biometric data. According to 2018 records, the verification failure ratio to government services was up to 12%, which is huge for our country. Similarly, linking the Aadhaar card with other facilities has increased anomalies in several cases. For example, in Jharkhand, a study found that 90 per cent of ration cards cancelled during linking of Aadhaar between 2016 and 2018 were actually genuine.
After the amendment of the Representation of the People Act, the role of government employees and officers became significant. The concerned officials will have to ensure that the common voters do not suffer much in case of errors and other discrepancies in the Aadhar. Further, the Government should make sure that voters don’t need to visit government offices and stand in long queues for the correction of their identity cards. Otherwise, several citizens won’t be able to exercise their voting rights in a few upcoming elections. Moreover, the Government has to ensure that under no circumstances personal data of citizens is compromised and misused. Indeed, Aadhar cards should be made more secure, and data should be stored in encrypted form to avoid cyber threats.
To avoid hassles created from the linkage of different ID cards to Aadhar, the Government should analyze possibilities of making an Integrated National Identity card similar to SSN of the United States. In the last few years, with Government initiatives, the Aadhaar card has been considered as acceptable proof of identity in most Government, Autonomous, and private organizations. Aadhaar as an identity card will be further strengthened after linking with the voter ID card. Aadhar is already linked with PAN cards, bank accounts, Ration cards, and most government schemes; it can be developed as an integrated Identity Card by linking driving licenses and other necessary identity cards in the long run. Though the Supreme Court has ordered a ban on the forcible use of Aadhaar in its rulings, the inclusion of required information related to citizens, residents, and migrants in the same identity card will ensure better governance. Looking into Digital India initiatives and technological advancements, achieving this goal is no longer inaccessible.