The Delhi government has asked students at city schools to disclose their Aadhaar and Voter ID information in an effort to identify those coming from neighbouring states. The order has set off a major controversy, with legal experts citing privacy violations and opposition parties terming it as a "conspiracy".
The circular, issued by the Directorate of Education on Tuesday, instructed the 1,020 government schools and 1,700 private schools in the city to collect Aadhaar and voter ID details of not just students but also their parents and siblings. The objective of the exercise, it said, was "to create a databank of students from Delhi and analyse the information collected for various purposes".
Amid mounting criticism, the Delhi government admitted that the directive was meant to identify outsiders studying in city schools and look at ways to reduce their count. However, it also clarified that the intention was only to stem the entry of such students into these educational institutions in the future, and not force existing ones to leave.
"Today, the situation in Delhi is such that its schools are used more by children of those residing outside rather than the city itself. Hence, voter ID and Aadhaar are needed to identify which children stay in Delhi, and what is the percentage of outsiders," said Aam Aadmi Party leader Atishi Marlena.
Neither the opposition Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) nor legal experts were impressed by the explanation. "Prima facie, it is a violation of privacy. The Supreme Court has already established that it is the fundamental right of every citizen. By creating this divide, they are acting as if Delhi is a country in itself, and they are its masters," said Ashok Agarwal, Lawyer and President of the All India Parents Association.
BJP leader Manoj Tiwari termed it as a "huge conspiracy" as well as an unconstitutional attack on parents. "None of the parents need to share any such information with the schools," he added.
School principals approached by NDTV said it was up to the parents to give their consent, and they would not like to get involved in the controversy. Most parents who found the circular problematic refused to comment over fears that their children would be targeted.
Although providing documentary evidence of a Delhi residence is mandatory for those aspiring to study at government schools in the city, a recent survey found that 61 per cent of students at a certain school and 51 per cent from another were from Uttar Pradesh and Haryana but had provided local addresses during admission.