The Supreme Court directed union as well all state government not to make Aadhaar mandatory. Yet, Maharashtra's Education Department is enforcing Aadhaar registration for all students below 14
Despite a clear direction from the Supreme Court and statement from the Narendra Modi-led union government for not making Aadhaar mandatory, the Maharashtra government is openly flouting both. Without knowing that biometrics, especially of children is most susceptible to undergo change over years, the Education Department headed by Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP)’s Vinod Tawde is forcing Aadhaar enrolment for all students across the state.
According to a report from Times of India, "Aadhaar will be compulsory for school students and they will have to apply for it by 26th June. It will be linked with children's admission numbers and government benefits they are entitled to. Over 1 crore children in the state up to 14 years of age will be brought under Aadhaar."
The Maharashtra government issued a resolution (GR) (201504211358081421
) on 21st April that makes it mandatory for all students up to 14 years of age in the state to register for an Aadhaar number and connect it with their school admission number. The district collector, as well as district education officer, is asked to fully implement this scheme before 26th June and submit a report. What the Education Department has forgotten is that at present majority of schools in the state are having summer vacations and would reopen only in second or third week of June.
Quoting sources, the newspaper report says, “…the Unique Identification Authority of India (UIDAI), through the state government, has directed the state's school education and women and child welfare departments to employ agencies to bring the children under Aadhaar, instead of deploying teaching staff. But the government wants school staff to create maximum awareness among students and ensure their registration quickly. It also wants these departments to take up a massive public campaign.”
This order from the Devendra Fadnavis-led Maharashtra government is completely in contrast with the decision of the Supreme Court. On 16 March 2015, a Bench of Justices J Chelameswar, SA Bobde and C Nagappan directed the central and state governments not to insist on possessing Aadhaar
for availing benefits under the various social security schemes as it reiterated an order it passed in September 2013.
The apex court did not appear appreciative when Solicitor General Ranjit Kumar submitted that some states were not abiding by the court order.
"It is your duty to ensure our orders are followed. You can't say states are not following our order," the Bench told him, stressing it was incumbent upon the central government to ensure that the states complied with the apex court's order.
Directing the next hearing of the matter in the second week of July and noting the presence of the centre and all the states, the court said: "We expect all to scrupulously adhere to our order dated 23 September 2013."
Last month, in a written reply to Lok Sabha, Planning Minister Rao Inderjit Singh said, the government was not considering any proposal to make it mandatory for citizens to get Aadhaar card issued by the UIDAI. “Various ministries, departments and agencies of Centre and states that implement different schemes/ programmes involving provisions of benefits or services are encouraged to leverage Aadhaar for elimination of fakes and duplicates from the list of beneficiaries, increasing efficiency of implementation and achieving higher levels of transparency in operations. In doing so it has to be ensured that no eligible person suffers, or is denied any benefit or service, merely for the lack of an Aadhaar," the minister had said.
Coming back to the issue of biometrics related with Aadhaar, it is a well-known fact that human body parts like fingerprint, iris, voice age, wither and decay with the passage of time. Is there a biological material in the human body that constitutes biometric data, which is immortal, ageless and permanent?
Besides working conditions, humidity, temperature and lighting conditions also impact the quality of biological material used for generating biometric data. Both Aadhaar and NPR are based on the unscientific and questionable assumption that there are parts of human body likes fingerprint, iris, voice etc” that does not age, wither and decay with the passage of time.
Those who support Aadhaar and NPR seem to display unscientific temper by implication. A report “Biometric Recognition: Challenges and Opportunities
” of the National Research Council, USA published on 24 September 2010 concluded that the current state of biometrics is ‘inherently fallible’. That is also one of the findings of a five-year study. This study was jointly commissioned by the CIA, the US Department of Homeland Security and the Defence Advanced Research Projects Agency.
There is a need for the Parliament, Supreme Court, state legislatures and High Courts to examine whether or not biometrics provides an established way of fixing identity of Indians.
With the Maharashtra government openly flouting directions from the Supreme Court, it is high time the apex court take suo moto action against those responsible, be it the Education Minister or other babus.