Aadhaar cards no proof of nationality for outside students

Nearly 200 DTE candidates face admission hurdle in the absence of nationality certificate; CoEP director steps in to mandate an acceptance of notarised birth certificate as proof of nationality

The nationality debate is nastily spilling onto college application forms now. The birth certificate and Aadhaar card are enough to serve as proof of nationality during admission. But for the Directorate of Technical Education (DTE), this unique identification card has no value, especially if the student is from outside the state.

The son of a former Indian Navy officer from Rajasthan’s Jhunjhunu district learnt this the hard way on Tuesday. Aditya Singh Jhuria had applied for a Computer Engineering course via the Central Admission Process (CAP), submitting both the documents as proof of being an Indian citizen to the College of Engineering, Pune (CoEP) administrative staff, only to be snubbed with a firm rejection.

Administrative officer Yashwant Kolekar demanded a nationality certificate given by the district magistrate instead, even shooing Aditya out of the admission hall.

“I came to Pune with my father, Vijay Singh Jhuria, on Monday and had applied for admission to the first-year degree course in Computer Engineering at CoEP’s student facility centre. All of Tuesday morning, I stood in the queue, form and documents in hand. But, when I submitted my form and other original certificates, the administrative officer told me to get my nationality certificate, refusing to accept the Aadhaar card. Kolekar got so miffed that he asked me to leave the hall. Today is the last date to submit the form. I don’t know what to do,” rued a distraught Aditya.

Ex-serviceman Amar Kulkarni, a friend of Aditya’s father, said, “The incident is unfortunate. The Aadhaar card is a Government of India initiative. Then why is it not considered as proof of nationality for getting admission? I request the government to consider it as one.” Aditya’s is not the only case of rejection by the engineering college. Though the official figures point at 20-25 complaints by students from other states, Pune Mirror‘s queries with students revealed almost 100 to 200 such students seeking admission were being harassed by the CoEP administration.

Akhilesh Verma, who hails from Lucknow, Uttar Pradesh, told Mirror, “I am applying for the first-year Mechanical Engineering degree. I don’t have a nationality certificate, but do possess an Aadhaar card. But, they refuse to accept this as proof of nationality. I have requested the CoEP staff to accept my application and give me some time to submit a new nationality certificate, but they are not even responding to that.” A fellow student from Lucknow, Niraj Pandey, had the same disappointment to share. “We are camping in the city for the last two days, and are facing a volley of obstacles. I am applying for the Electronics Engineering course, but the CoEP staff did not accept my admission form as I don’t have a nationality certificate.”

The birth certificates issued in other states already have state government stamps and are, therefore, more than acceptable as proof of nationality. Patna resident Rocky Robert claimed they did not ever need a nationality certificate in home state Bihar. “They accept the Aadhaar card as proof of nationality. But in Maharashtra, I am facing a lot of problem with the admission process. Around 100-200 students from various other states are also in a similar plight,” he stressed.

Kiran Sali, a student leader from the city who is communicating on behalf of these students with CoEP director Dr B B Ahuja, told Mirror, “Yesterday, Aditya told me about the misbehaviour by CoEP staff and the student facility centre’s refusal to accept the Aadhaar card as proof of nationality. I was shocked to hear the much publicised Aadhaar card wasn’t seen as valid proof of citizenship. I spoke to Dr Ahuja, requesting him to accept birth certificates as nationality proofs for now, giving them some time to produce nationality certificates. He assured me that the admission forms of all out-of-state students will be accepted.”

However, Ahuja clarified, “We run the student facility centres according to the directives of the state Directorate of Technical Education (DTE). Its rules entail that we demand certificates that are listed as compulsory for first-year engineering degree admissions. The list says it is mandatory to submit a Nationality Certificate along with the forms. But out-of-state students don’t have Nationality Certificates, so they show us the Aadhaar card as proof of being Indian. We got 20 to 25 complaints from students for misbehaviour by our staff in their demand for Nationality Certificates. I am not aware of any student being roughed up, which is a remote possibility. Still, I ordered the staff to behave calmly and accept the forms by taking a notarised copy of the birth certificate and other authentic documents.”

But Kolekar, accused of being rude by Aditya, said in his defence, “I do my duty in keeping with the rules given by DTE. For nationality proof, we need the passport, birth certificate in which the Indian citizenship is specifically mentioned or school-leaving certificate. We will not accept Aadhaar cards as a proof of nationality. I might have flared up as it is stressful to handle so many students. I would like to apologise if anybody has been hurt.” Ahuja also spoke of instances where people living outside the country possess Aadhaar cards and PAN cards even. “There are so many cases where people living in the US or other countries have PAN cards and Aadhaar cards. But, they are not proper Indians. To avoid fake Aadhaar card cases, the DTE denies it as proof of nationality,” he insisted. State director of technical education Dr Subhash Mahajan couldn’t agree more. “According to the DTE rules, we cannot consider the Aadhaar card as proof of Nationality. But, we will not have any student losing out academically. So, we have given such cases an extra day and admission round. If anyone is not able to submit a nationality certificate, I have given orders to the Central Admission Process (CAP) committee to accept his form with a notarised copy of the birth certificate and the school leaving certificate.”

█ We have received complaints about staff misbehaviour. I have ordered them to be calm and accept forms by taking a notarised copy of the birth certificate and other authentic documents