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UGC by issuing a Public Notice has decided to withdraw the order to all the Universities to make Aadhar details of PhD scholars public, saying publishing and displaying the unique identification number is prohibited.

The decision comes when the Supreme Court is hearing several petitions concerning disclosure of Aadhar IDs for government schemes and government compliances.

“It is informed that the Aadhaar (Targeted Delivery of Financial and Other Subsidies, Benefits and Services) Act, 2016 prohibits publishing and displaying the Aadhaar number publicly. Therefore, you are requested not to publish or display the Aadhaar number of the scholars publicly,” UGC secretary J.S. Sandhu said in a communication to Universities.

The Commission, in its 521st Meeting held on 22nd February, 2017, has decided to request all the universities to upload data regarding Ph.D. on their website on the parameters mentioned in the proforma attached alongwith and therefore by letter dated 10.03.2017, UGC had asked all universities to upload the details of PhD scholars on their websites in a proforma prescribed by it. The details sought in the proforma included PhD registration number, details of supervisor, funding agency (if any), topic of research and Aadhaar number.

A similar situation had arisen last year as well, when it was mandatory for the students to submit their Aadhaar number for grant of all scholarships, including fellowships for higher education.

However, later, by way of clarification of earlier letters dated 29.06.20.16 and 20.07.2016, UGC clarified that any student who have applied or wishing to apply for scholarship/fellowship shall not be denied benefit thereof due to non-availability of Aadhaar No./Card, however, the applicant would have to provide an alternate means of verification of identity and concerned bank account to the satisfaction of the competent authority

EduLegaL View:

The basic facet of a statutory regulatory authority is to act in just, fair and reasonable manner.

How was it fair and reasonable for UGC to ask the Universities to disclose the Aadhar details of Ph.D. Scholars. Furthermore, when similar such directions issued in past were withdrawn then what was the need to tread the same path again.

Ravi Bhardwaj | mail@edulegal.in

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