Aadhaar not mandatory to apply for any national examination, rules SC

The deadline for Aadhaar linkage may get extended beyond 31st March 2018

The Supreme Court on Wednesday sought the Centre's position on a petition challenging the Central Board of Secondary Education's (CBSE) decision to make Aadhaar mandatory for the National Eligibility cum Entrance Test (NEET).

Besides Aadhaar, the candidates for NEET exams can furnish their passport, voter ID or driving licence, or ration card or give their bank account number as proof of identity.

"We have extended the deadline in the past and we will extend the deadline again but we may do it by the end of the month to enable the petitioners in the case conclude the arguments", Venugopal said.

The bench rejected Venugopal's submission that most of the interim orders were passed by the apex court prior to the passage of the Aadhaar Act in 2016. The current deadline was extended back in December 2017 as the original deadline was February 6, 2018, for mobile numbers.

Senior advocates Arvind Datar and Vibha Makhija, for petitioners, said it was a "great tragedy" that the authorities continue to violate the court's interim orders.

"Notwithstanding judicial scrutiny and government's well-intentioned moves, the banks, particularly those in the PSUs, may find it hard and challenging to complete the task of linking Aadhaar with the accounts of all the customers by March 31, 2018, thus necessitating relaxation of the deadline", the Assocham said in a statement.

The constitution bench is hearing challenges to the constitutional validity of the Aadhaar scheme on the touchstone of the fundamental right to privacy on a bunch of petitions by former Karnataka High Court Judge K.S. Puttuswamy, Magsaysay awardee Shanta Sinha, feminist researcher Kalyani Sen Menon and others.

"Centre has not authorised CBSE to make Aadhaar card a mandatory ID for NEET examinations", the AG said. The deadline to register for NEET is March 9.

Datar complained that senior advocate Shyam Divan, who is also appearing for a batch of petitioners, had not been allowed to open a fixed-deposit policy with the government-owned UCO Bank on the premises of the Supreme Court because of non-production of Aadhaar card. The arguments remained inconclusive and would resume on March 13.



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