Going by the complaint made by Delhi-based NGO Citizens Forum for Civil Liberties (CFCL), the recent decision of the University Grants Commission (UGC) could be the first pain point that needs to be addressed by Prakash Javadekar, who replaced Smriti Irani as Union Human Resource Development (HRD) minister on July 6.
The NGO alleges that UGC has violated a Supreme Court (SC) order by making Aadhaar number mandatory for college students to avail scholarships and fellowships.
In a letter to Javadekar, dated July 12, CFCL stated that the expansion of Aadhaar scheme beyond a handful of approved programmes has not been permitted by the Supreme Court until the court takes a final call on the petitions that have challenged the scheme. In a series of interim orders, starting from September 23, 2013, to October 15, 2015, SC had wanted the government to make Aadhaar strictly voluntary until the matter is fully decided by the court.
The letter also points out that the SC had specifically instructed that no eligible or entitled person under any circumstances should be deprived of any service for want of Aadhaar number, and had asked the authorities to modify their forms and circulars accordingly.
CFCL alleges that UGC has violated the SC directive by instructing all the universities, on June 29, to ensure that their students have Aadhaar numbers for smooth roll-out of scholarships and fellowships.
The civil society group wants the directive to be withdrawn or modified.