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Delhi HC: Aadhaar not obligatory for EWS admissions in private schools

September 22, 2023

The Delhi High Court has declined to interfere with an order that has temporarily suspended the enforcement of the Delhi government’s decision, which required a child’s Aadhaar card for admission to private unaided recognized schools under the categories of economically weaker section (EWS), disadvantaged group (DG), and children with special needs (CWSN).

A bench led by Chief Justice Satish Chandra Sharma dismissed an appeal filed by the Delhi government against the interim order of a single-judge bench and expressed concerns that this requirement may conflict with constitutional provisions related to privacy. The court highlighted that collecting sensitive personal information about a child, as observed in the KS Puttaswamy case by the Supreme Court, could potentially infringe upon their right to privacy under Article 21 of the Indian Constitution.

The court also noted that the Supreme Court has emphasized that making Aadhaar submission mandatory could violate fundamental rights protected by Article 21, and such limitations cannot be constitutionally justified.

The single-judge’s order was issued in response to a petition by a man who claimed that his five-year-old child was unable to participate in the computerized lottery scheme for school seat allocation in the 2023 academic year due to a lack of an Aadhaar card.

The Delhi government had issued circulars on July 12, 2022, and February 2, 2023, mandating the requirement of an Aadhaar card or Aadhaar number for admission to private unaided recognized schools in the national capital under the EWS, DG, and CWSN categories.

The court clarified that the single judge has not yet made a final decision on the petition, and therefore, there is no merit in the government’s appeal.

In its appeal against the single judge’s order issued on July 27, the Delhi government’s standing counsel, Santosh Kumar Tripathi, argued that the judge had failed to fully grasp the intent and objectives behind the circulars. Tripathi maintained that the Aadhaar card requirement served a practical purpose by eliminating duplicate applications and modernizing the admission process for the EWS and DG categories in private unaided recognized schools’ entry-level classes. He also argued that mandating an Aadhaar card did not violate a child’s right to free and compulsory education but rather protected against fraudulent applications and admissions based on false identities. The government counsel assured that authorities had no intention of compromising the privacy or security of candidates.

Also read: Maharashtra: 2.53 million students have invalid Aadhar registration

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