Evident that BJP may have obtained personal details of voters; says Madras HC, rebukes UIDAI for not ascertaining how there was a data leak

THE Madras High Court Friday said it was apparent that the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) may have resorted to a form of campaigning not permissible under the model code of conduct.

These observations came to be made by a division bench of Chief Justice Sanjib Banerjee and Justice Senthilkumar Ramamoorthy while hearing public interest litigation filed by A Anand of the Democratic Youth Federation of India (DYFI) alleging that the Puducherry unit of the BJP was illegally accessing Aadhaar data and using the personal data of voters for Its election campaign.

The high court said it was evident that personal details of voters and citizens may have been obtained by the BJP and put to use for campaign purposes.

It asked the Unique Identification Authority of India (UIDAI) to immediately ascertain how such material could have been accessed by a particular political party.

Rebuking the UIDAI, the court said, unfortunately, rather than trying to ascertain how the personal details of voters may have been leaked from its system, the UIDAI had criticized the petitioner for not having brought the matter to the notice of the relevant authority.

The Election Commission (EC) informed the court that it would have to await the outcome of the investigation undertaken by the Cyber Crime Cell. It added it had brought the matter to the notice of UIDAI.

The EC further informed the court that it had issued a notice on March 25, a day after the writ petition was entertained by the 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 petitioner, however, claimed that the SMS messages continued unabated on the same lines as complained of.

The court asked the EC to take immediate action if such was the case.

On the allegation of the petitioner that he was being harassed during the investigation, the court reminded the investigation agency of its duties despite “the allegiance that it may seek to portray.”

The court fixed March 31 as the next date of hearing.

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