Reminding the Central government that Aadhaar cannot be made mandatory for any services, the Supreme Court has ordered it to remove a condition making it mandatory for the students to give their Aadhaar numbers for various scholarship schemes. A bench led by Justice V Gopala Gowda recalled an order of the top court in October 2015 whereby it was clarified that “the Aadhaar card Scheme is purely voluntary and it cannot be made mandatory till the matter is finally decided by this Court one way or the other”. But a the letter dated sent by the Central government to chief secretaries and administrators of all states and union territories on July 14 had stated that only online application under the National Scholarship Scheme will be accepted and “it may be noted that submission of Aadhaar is mandatory.”
Appearing for All Bengal Minority Students Council, senior lawyer Gopal Jain said that this communication was in contempt of the interim order passed by a Constitution Bench, which has repeatedly said that Aadhaar could not be made mandatory and nobody could be denied access to any service for lack of it.
The bench accepted his submission and stayed the operation and implementation of Centre’s communication for Pre-Matric Scholarship Scheme, Post-Matric Scholarship Scheme and Merit-cum-Means Scholarship Scheme to the extent they made submission of Aadhaar mandatory.
“We direct the Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology, Government of India to remove Aadhaar number as a mandatory condition for students’ registration form at the National Scholarship Portal…” further directed the court in a recent order.
It has also sought an explanation from the Centre for including such a condition despite the five-judge bench’s restraint against making Aadhaar compulsory.