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Delhi HC orders St. Stephen’s College to withdraw admission prospectus

HC requests responses from Centre, UGC on Aadhaar-based enrollment in ABC via DigiLocker

March 6, 2024

On Tuesday, the Delhi High Court sought the viewpoint of both the Centre and UGC in response to a plea asserting that students face hurdles in enrolling in the Academics Bank of Credits (ABC) without a DigiLocker account, which mandates a valid Aadhaar ID. The petitioner, a law student at Delhi University, contended that the use of Aadhaar for DigiLocker account creation limits enrollment options solely to Aadhaar, neglecting alternative identification documents like Voter ID and driving license.

Acting Chief Justice Manmohan and Justice Manmeet P S Arora granted time to the Union Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology and UGC’s counsel to seek instructions and provide clarification on the matter. The court scheduled the petition for further hearing on March 21.

The petitioner, Premvir Singh, expressed dissatisfaction with the UGC’s order dated February 21, 2023, and the UGC (Establishment and Operation of Academic Bank Of Credits in Higher Education) Regulations, 2021. Singh argued that requiring Aadhaar for DigiLocker account creation infringes upon the right to education, as it limits enrollment options and contradicts the Supreme Court’s stance on Aadhaar mandates.

Senior advocate Sunil Dalal, representing Singh, emphasized that UGC should not make Aadhaar mandatory for the ABC program unless there are associated benefits or subsidies. Dalal highlighted the petitioner’s inability to open a DigiLocker account without uploading Aadhaar details.

The petition, filed through advocates Shikha Sapra and Abhinav Jain, seeks a directive to the ministry and Digital India Corporation to allow DigiLocker account creation without Aadhaar, providing alternative identification options. Additionally, it calls for a modification to UGC’s order to align with this stance.

The plea underscores concerns about the mandatory seeding of Aadhaar and its potential violation of the fundamental right to education protected under Article 21 of the Constitution of India. It refers to the Supreme Court’s privacy judgment, which expressly prohibits the authorities from mandating Aadhaar for various examinations and programs.

The plea also touches upon the Digilocker app, highlighting its capacity to store and digitally verify online documents, including Aadhaar, providing up to 1 GB of storage space per account holder.

Also read: UGC prohibits printing Aadhaar numbers on degrees, certificates

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