The Supreme Court on Wednesday said the Central Board of Secondary Education (CBSE) will not insist on Aadhaar-only identification for NEET and other all-India examinations.
A five-judge Constitution bench, headed by Chief Justice Dipak Misra, said this while referring to an earlier order by which the government had undertaken that it will not insist on Aadhaar-only identification till the top court decides on petitions challenging the constitutional validity of Aadhaar.
The court said that CBSE will upload the necessary information on their website so that students are not affected.
Besides Chief Justice Misra, other judges on the constitution bench are Justice A.K. Sikri, Justice A.M. Khanwilkar, Justic D.Y. Chandrachud and Justice Ashok Bhushan.
The court order came on a plea by a Gujarat resident Abid Ali Yusuf Bhai Patel who has challenged the CBSE circular mandating Aadhaar-only identity for those appearing for National Eligibility cum Entrance Test (NEET) examination for undergraduate medical courses: MBBS and Bachelor of Dental Surgery.
Abid Ali Yusuf Bhai Patel's niece is a NEET aspirant and the last date of filing the form is Friday (March 9).
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.
Explaining the rationale behind CBSE asking for identity for enrolment of students appearing for NEET or other all-India examination, Attorney General K.K. Venugopal said it was to curb large-scale impersonation.
However, the Attorney General said the students, who intended to register for NEET examination and any other all-India examination, need not necessarily produce the Aadhar number for the present.
They may be asked to produce any alternative identification number, such as ration card, passport, voter ID, driving licence or bank account, AG said.
The Unique Identification Authority of India told the bench that it has not asked the Central Board of Secondary Education to insist on Aadhaar for student aspiring to appear for under-graduate entrance examinations.
The hearing saw Justice Chandrachud telling the Centre that the deadline on linking of Aadhaar with various schemes including bank accounts, Income Tax Returns concerned the entire financial system and people could not live in uncertainty over extension of deadline.
"You cannot wait till March 27 to extend the deadline," Justice Chandrachud said suggesting that it can be done on March 14.
At this, Justice Sikri said that since "his brother judge (Justice Chandrachud)" has unwittingly mentioned March 14, the extension of deadline would be done on that day only.
Appearing for Congress Rajya Sabha member Jairam Ramesh, who has challenged the introduction of the Aadhaar Bill, 2016 (now an Act), as Money Bill, senior counsel P. Chidambaram told the bench that Article 110 of the constitution defines a Money Bill and spells the category of legislations that can be introduced as Money Bill.
Aadhaar Act, 2016, as it is commonly known as, is 'The Aadhaar (Targeted Delivery of Financial and Other Subsidies, Benefits and Services) Act, 2016.
Chidambaram told the court that only those bills meeting the requirements specified under sub-clause (a) to (f) of clause (1) of Article 110 of the constitution can be introduced as Money Bill.
He also referred to Article 110(1)(e) which says that any matter which is incidental to any of the matters specified in sub-clauses (a) to (f) too can be introduced as Money Bill.
Telling the court that Aadhaar Bill does not meet the requirements specified under sub-clause (a) to (f) and is not incidental to them, Chidambaram said that Money Bill derogates the powers of Rajya Sabha to vote on it and can only make recommendation which Lok Sabha may or may not accept.
Addressing the contention that Speaker's decision to allow a bill to be introduced as Money Bill could not be questioned in the courts, Chidambaram took the court through various provisions of the constitution to assert that the top court can always examine the correctness of a decision by the Speaker.
Chidambaram will continue with his arguments on March 13.