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BJP may have accessed personal information for votes in Puducherry: Madras HC

The court also expressed its shock over UIDAI’s failure to protect the data of citizens in its system

Sabrangindia 27 Mar 2021

Image Courtesy:news.abplive.com

On the allegations of BJP Puducherry using Aadhaar data for political mileage, the Madras High Court has opined, “It is apparent that the sixth respondent political party may have resorted to a form of campaigning not permissible under the model code of conduct. It is also evident that personal details of voters and citizens may have been obtained by such political party and put to use for campaign purposes.”

The Bench headed by Chief Justice Sanjib Banerjee directed the Election Commission to take “immediate action” if such allegations were true. The court said that it was “unfortunate” that the Unique Identification Authority of India (UIDAI) accused the petitioner A. Anand (President of the Puducherry State Committee of the Democratic Youth Federation of India) for not having brought the matter to the notice of the relevant authority, instead of trying to ascertain how the personal details of voters may have been leaked from its system.

The petitioner, A. Anand had alleged that Puducherry residents had started receiving messages from BJP Puducherry with an invite link to join WhatsApp groups, that were later found to have been run by persons in other BJP-ruled States. The plea filed by him stated that the Puducherry BJP Unit had gained unauthorised access to the personal data of the residents of Union Territory of Puducherry from the Aadhaar UIDAI database and has been illegally using the data for its own political motive.

The court directed UIDAI to ascertain how certain information about Puducherry residents are being leaked as alleged by the petitioner. The order read, “The Election Commission of India, on the other hand, says that it has to await the outcome of the investigation undertaken by the Cyber Crime Cell. The Election Commission, however, says that it has brought the matter to the notice of the seventh respondent. The seventh respondent should immediately ascertain how such material could have been accessed by a particular political party.”

The Court also noted that the Election Commission issued a notice on March 25, 2021, a day after the writ petition was entertained by Court, “asking all political parties to adhere to the model code of conduct in the sense that no bulk messages should be sent in the Union Territory of Puducherry without obtaining pre-certification from the office of the Chief Electoral Officer, Puducherry.”

The Election Commission of India submitted before the High Court that following a complaint regarding BJP members sending bulk messages to voters, it had already issued a show-cause notice to the BJP unit on March 8 and further, a report was also given to the Cyber Crime unit, which was investigating the case.

The Commission also submitted that it had to await the outcome of the investigation undertaken by the Cyber Crime Cell and sought to present a preliminary report of the investigation on March 26 during the hearing.

To this, the court said that it was not relevant to look into any preliminary report on investigation, though they hoped that the investigation will be completed as expeditiously as possible and immediate appropriate action taken in accordance with law.  

The matter has now been listed on March 31.

The order may be read here: 

Related:

Madras HC expresses concern over plea alleging BJP Puducherry illegally using Aadhaar data for votes

BJP may have accessed personal information for votes in Puducherry: Madras HC

The court also expressed its shock over UIDAI’s failure to protect the data of citizens in its system

Image Courtesy:news.abplive.com

On the allegations of BJP Puducherry using Aadhaar data for political mileage, the Madras High Court has opined, “It is apparent that the sixth respondent political party may have resorted to a form of campaigning not permissible under the model code of conduct. It is also evident that personal details of voters and citizens may have been obtained by such political party and put to use for campaign purposes.”

The Bench headed by Chief Justice Sanjib Banerjee directed the Election Commission to take “immediate action” if such allegations were true. The court said that it was “unfortunate” that the Unique Identification Authority of India (UIDAI) accused the petitioner A. Anand (President of the Puducherry State Committee of the Democratic Youth Federation of India) for not having brought the matter to the notice of the relevant authority, instead of trying to ascertain how the personal details of voters may have been leaked from its system.

The petitioner, A. Anand had alleged that Puducherry residents had started receiving messages from BJP Puducherry with an invite link to join WhatsApp groups, that were later found to have been run by persons in other BJP-ruled States. The plea filed by him stated that the Puducherry BJP Unit had gained unauthorised access to the personal data of the residents of Union Territory of Puducherry from the Aadhaar UIDAI database and has been illegally using the data for its own political motive.

The court directed UIDAI to ascertain how certain information about Puducherry residents are being leaked as alleged by the petitioner. The order read, “The Election Commission of India, on the other hand, says that it has to await the outcome of the investigation undertaken by the Cyber Crime Cell. The Election Commission, however, says that it has brought the matter to the notice of the seventh respondent. The seventh respondent should immediately ascertain how such material could have been accessed by a particular political party.”

The Court also noted that the Election Commission issued a notice on March 25, 2021, a day after the writ petition was entertained by Court, “asking all political parties to adhere to the model code of conduct in the sense that no bulk messages should be sent in the Union Territory of Puducherry without obtaining pre-certification from the office of the Chief Electoral Officer, Puducherry.”

The Election Commission of India submitted before the High Court that following a complaint regarding BJP members sending bulk messages to voters, it had already issued a show-cause notice to the BJP unit on March 8 and further, a report was also given to the Cyber Crime unit, which was investigating the case.

The Commission also submitted that it had to await the outcome of the investigation undertaken by the Cyber Crime Cell and sought to present a preliminary report of the investigation on March 26 during the hearing.

To this, the court said that it was not relevant to look into any preliminary report on investigation, though they hoped that the investigation will be completed as expeditiously as possible and immediate appropriate action taken in accordance with law.  

The matter has now been listed on March 31.

The order may be read here: 

Related:

Madras HC expresses concern over plea alleging BJP Puducherry illegally using Aadhaar data for votes

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