EC allows govt to use voters’ data for vaccination, asks to delete it after drive

By Express News Service
NEW DELHI: The Election Commission has agreed to share its electoral database with the government authorities and assured “all other possible help” in identifying targeted beneficiaries at the polling station-level for the Covid-19 vaccination drive. It, however, has asked the authorities to delete the data once the vaccination process is completed.

Sources aware of the development said the EC’s nod came following Union home secretary Ajay Kumar Bhalla’s letter to Chief Election Commissioner Sunil Arora, urging the panel to help authorities in identifying people above 50 years of age at the polling station-level. The sources said, on the issue of data security, Bhalla wrote that the government was “complying with the current best practices for ensuring cybersecurity” and assured the panel that the data will be “used only for the purpose of vaccination”.

The EC, after detailed deliberations, wrote back to the home secretary on January 4, saying it has decided to render “full assistance” in the vaccination drive and asked the government to ensure that the data is “strictly used for the limited purpose for which it has been sought”, the sources said. Some senior EC officials will be in touch with nodal officers of the MHA and the Union Health Ministry to settle day-to-day issues, they said.

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Last month, officials of the health ministry and the Niti Aayog had met the EC top brass seeking their help in the distribution of Covid-19 vaccine given the poll panel’s robust data network at the booth level.According to the guidelines for the vaccination drive, the latest electoral roll for the Lok Sabha and Assembly elections will be used to identify the priority population over the age of 50 years. 

Ex-SCBA chief URGES SC to resume normal opNew Delhi: With the number of Covid-19 cases coming down in the country, senior advocate and former SCBA president Vikas Singh has requested CJI S A Bobde that the Supreme Court, which has been hearing cases virtually in view of the pandemic for past several months, resume normal functioning at the earliest. “In my view when the entire country is opening up, of course with sufficient safeguards, I see no reason why the SC which is the foundation of our democratic polity should not resume full normal functioning by putting in place sufficient safeguards for the said opening,” the letter reads.