“The damage is done. Still I am happy with the judgment,” said John Abrahim, a former resident of Andheri who has now shifted to Kerala. Abrahim left Mumbai after his son was allegedly denied admission to St Xavier’s College and faced trouble getting admitted to a hospital — all because he did not have an Aadhaar card. Abrahim took voluntary retirement from his Railways job after submission of Aadhaar details was made mandatory.
On Wednesday, the Supreme Court, while hearing a clutch of petitions, upheld the constitutional validity of Aadhaar but put restrictions on its use. The apex court held that while it was mandatory to have an Aadhaar card to access welfare schemes, file income tax returns and link it to the PAN card, it was no more necessary to link the Aadhaar number to bank accounts and SIM cards, or to share it while seeking admissions to schools.
“God is great. This judgment is going to benefit schoolchildren. They won’t be obligated to submit their Aadhaar cards anymore,”Abrahim told The Indian Express over the phone. Last year, his 17-year-old son was allegedly denied admission to Class XII in St Xavier’s College for not possessing an Aadhaar card. His son also faced trouble getting treated in a hospital in Andheri, which requires Aadhaar for registration of the patient’s name. Abrahim took voluntary retirement from the Railways after it became mandatory for employees to submit their Aadhaar details.
In August last year, Abrahim approached the Bombay High Court, seeking directions to give admission to his son at St Xavier’s College, without having to furnish his Aadhaar details. The High Court, however, did not grant him any relief.
Abrahim said his son received admission into Class XII in a college in Andheri last year. “To avoid more complications, I shifted to Kerala this year. My son has got admission in a BA course here without submitting Aadhaar details,” he said.
“It was my decision not to sign up for an Aadhaar card and when I told my family, they supported my decision. We are born in an independent country, why force this on us? We have suffered huge losses because of our stand, I had to take voluntary retirement and my son was not given admission by St Xavier’s College. The damage is done. “
Much like Abrahim, Malad resident Hitesh Bali had refused to link his bank account to his Aadhaar card. On Wednesday, he heaved a sigh of relief. “I was not comfortable sharing my Aadhaar details with the bank. I am not sure how secure my personal data is with the bank. The SC judgment is very welcome,” he said.
Since an Aadhaar card is not mandatory anymore for admissions to schools, parents and parents’ bodies have welcomed the move. “It was unfair to have made Aadhaar mandatory for admissions in the first place. Many parents had approached us about their apprehensions. With cyber security being a serious issue and cases of data leak, they didn’t want their children’s information to be breached. Many schools had denied children admissions because they did not have an Aadhaar. Now that the Supreme Court has cleared the air, admissions will be easier,” said Anubha Sahai, president of India Wide Parents Association.
Last year, while approving teacher strength for schools, the Maharashtra government had considered only those students who had tendered their Aadhaar details. “Many schools had admitted children without Aadhaar and they did not get enough teachers. While the government repealed its decision, the confusion persisted,” said the principal of a suburban school.