In a huge relief to thousands of students, the Supreme Court on Wednesday, while reading out its verdict in the constitutional validity of the scheme said that it is not mandatory to provide Aadhaar to register or appear for National Eligibility cum Entrance Test (NEET), University Grants Commission (UGC) and Central Board of Secondary Education (CBSE) exams. The apex court added that Aadhaar cannot be made compulsory for school admissions as well. The five-judge bench headed by Chief Justice of India (CJI) Dipak Misra said that “education has taken us from thumb impression to signature, now technology has taken us from signature to thumb impression”. The bench headed by Dipak Misra included Justices A K Sikri, A M Khanwilkar, D Y Chandrachud & Ashok Bhushan.
The top court said Aadhaar is serving a much bigger public interest and Aadhaar means unique and it is better to be unique than being best. There were three different sets of judgements on the issue out of which the first was pronounced by Justice A K Sikri who wrote the judgement for himself. Justice Sikri said robust data protection regime has to be brought in place as early as possible. He said the attack on Aadhaar by petitioners is based on the violation of rights under the Constitution, will lead to a surveillance State.
He said there has been minimal demographic and biometric data collected by UIDAI for Aadhaar enrolment. Justice Sikri said unique identification proof also empowers and gives identity to marginalised sections of society.
The verdict was pronounced on a batch of pleas challenging the constitutional validity of Aadhaar scheme and its enabling 2016 law. The bench had on May 10 reserved the verdict on the matter after a marathon hearing that went on for 38 days, spanning four-and-half months.
Earlier this year, a Constitution Bench of the Supreme Court had stayed a CBSE notification that made Aadhaar or its enrolment proof mandatory to register or appear for the National Eligibility cum Entrance Test (NEET) 2018. The court had ordered the CBSE, the authority which conducts NEET, to upload the apex court order on its website.