Bringing a sigh of relief to parents who were being pressured by schools to provide their wards’ Aadhaar numbers, the state government clarified to the Karnataka high court on Thursday that it is not mandatory.
Government advocate ES Indiresh told the court instructions have been issued to schools saying that Aadhaar is optional. The government made the submission before Justice Ashok B Hinchigeri in response to a petition filed by the trustee of a private school challenging a circular that made it mandatory for school students to furnish Aadhaar numbers.
The judge recorded the statement and disposed of the petition filed by RH Usha, managing trustee of Vani Education Centre, Rajajinagar, Bengaluru.
The petitioner contended that the circular dated September 3, 2015 issued by the block education officer, north zone-Bengaluru, and the department of public instruction is arbitrary and illegal in the light of the Supreme Court’s directive on the issue on August 30.
Amit Deshpande, counsel for the petitioner, argued that the BEO, through the circular, had in fact warned school principals of action if they failed to ensure all children from classes 1 to 10 were enrolled for Aadhaar.
He said the circular was bad in law as Aadhaar was not mandatory as per the Apex Court’s verdict in Justice Puttaswamy’s petition regarding the validity of Aadhaar.
This is one controversy the state government could have done without. The circular issued by an overzealous official of the education department making Aadhaar mandatory for students, only created panic and wasted the time of children, parents, schools, the court and the government itself. At best, the incident shows the lack of communication among officials; at worst, it exposes the bureaucrats’ ignorance of court rulings on Aadhaar pertaining to their own department. The government must see to it that such confusion is not created and officials use their good sense, or at least get approval from higher-ups before issuing such guidelines.