The Supreme Court on Monday asked Congress leader Randeep Singh Surjewala to approach the Delhi High Court with his plea challenging the Election Law Amendment Act that enables linking electoral roll data with the Aadhaar ecosystem. A bench of Justices DY Chandrachud and AS Bopanna granted liberty to Surjewala to move to the High Court.
“Since the PIL petitioner challenges the validity of Section 4 and 5 of the Election Law Amendment Act an efficacious alternate remedy is before the High Court. we grant liberty to move High court under article 226,” the bench said in its order. Filing the plea in the apex court Surjewala said that the linking of the cards “infringes upon the fundamental right of privacy of citizens and is unconstitutional and ultra vires the Constitution”.
The Congress leader, in his plea, said that the linkage of Aadhaar and Voter ID is completely “irrational” because the impugned amendment intends to link two completely distinct documents, the Aadhaar Card being a proof of residency and EPIC/Voter ID being a proof of citizenship. The plea stated, “Linking of Aadhaar data with Electronic Electoral Photo Identity Card data will allow the personal and private data of voters to be available to a statutory authority and shall impose a limitation on the voters, i.e., the voters will now have to establish their identity before the Electoral Registration Officer by furnishing their respective Aadhaar details.”
It said that the Supreme Court in its verdict in the case of Puttaswamy v/s Union of India had held that the Right to Privacy, i.e., the right to keep private data confidential and not be made available to the government or any statutory body, except in certain circumstances, is a fundamental right guaranteed to each and every citizen. Linking of cards may even increase the chances of voter surveillance and the commercial exploitation of private sensitive data of voters, Surjewala said in his plea.
“The situation will further be aggravated by the fact that at present there are no laws for protecting the data of citizens,” it added. The Election Laws (Amendment) Bill, authorising the linking of Aadhaar with Voter IDs, was passed by the Lok Sabha through a voice vote in December 2021.