Son denied college admission, hospital treatment without it

 by Ruhi Bhasin | Mumbai | P

John Abrahim, SC, Aadhaar, Mumbai Man Aadhaar Card Refused, Mumbai Aadhaar Card, Mumbai News, Indian Express, Indian Express NewsJohn Abrahim

Calling it “grave injustice”, Andheri resident John Abrahim has refused to get an Aadhaar card for himself and his family. The impediments he faced in the absence of the card — his son’s college admission, treatment in a hospital, his retirement benefits — have hardly been a deterrent. “Making me do something and making a single card the only reliable proof in the county is grave injustice. I am against this system which is forcing me to do something,” Abrahim said.

His 17-year-old son was allegedly denied admission to 12th standard in St Xavier’s College for not possessing an Aadhaar card. Most recently, his son also faced trouble getting treatment in a hospital in Andheri, which requires Aadhaar as proof for registration of the patient’s name.

But the father is still adamant in his fight against the system. Recently, after having taken voluntary retirement from the Indian Railways, he does not know if he will be given his pension in the absence of an Aadhaar card. In August this year, he had approached the Bombay High Court seeking directions to grant admission to his son in 12th standard in St Xavier’s College without furnishing his son’s Aadhaar card or that of his wife’s. The High Court, however, refused to grant him any relief.

The court initially suggested that the petitioner John Abrahim submit the Aadhaar card as required under various recent government resolutions. If he did so, the court would consider issuing direction to the college and the Trust — Bombay St Xavier’s College Society — which runs and manages the college, to grant admission to his son besides granting a certain time for submission of the Aadhaar card to the college.

Abrahim, however, informed the court later that he was unwilling to obtain the Aadhaar card. “We fail to understand the instance of not obtaining the Aadhaar card. It appears that the petitioner (Abrahim) is adamant and wants to take a stand only for the purpose of adamancy. We are, therefore, not inclined to grant an interim relief,” Justice B R Gavai had said.

He then approached the Supreme Court. On September 4, the apex court sought a response from the Maharashtra government on the issue and granted two weeks to do so. “They are making Aadhaar compulsory everywhere. What is the point of insisting on it during admissions and denying my child his right to education over it?” questioned Abrahim. He added that while half the academic year for his son would be over during the time the apex court decides on the issue, he would continue his fight against Aadhaar. His son has now got admission in another college.

This is not the first instance of someone questioning the requirement of Aadhaar for admissions. A Division Bench of Justice A S Oka and Justice A A Sayyed had, in June 2016, dismissed a public interest litigation challenging the government resolution (GR) issued on April 21, 2015, by which every child, while securing admission to any school in the state, is required to submit a copy of his or her Aadhaar card.

For Abrahim, the recent Right to Privacy judgment is a step towards helping him in his fight against the system, “which is forcing him” to get the Aadhaar card made by making it the only valid document required to be linked right from bank accounts to telephone numbers.

While the Supreme Court’s ruling held that the Right to Privacy is a fundamental right, it was only limited to that issue. The matter of whether Aadhaar violates the right to privacy will be dealt with by the five-judge bench hearing the petitions since 2015. “My son was recently ill. I took him to a hospital near my residence in Andheri. Their file specifies that Aadhaar card is mandatory to register the name of my child. I questioned this and after arguing on the point with them, they finally conceded to treating my son,” said Abrahim.

Abrahim said his wife, who used to work in Cooper Hospital, has no issues in his fight against the system. “I have issues against Aadhaar on religious grounds,” he said.