The Supreme Court on Wednesday ruled that Aadhaar is no longer mandatory for National Eligibility cum Entrance Test (NEET), University Grants Commission (UGC) and Central Board of Secondary Education (CBSE) exams. The court also declared that there was no need to produce the 12-digit unique identification number for school admissions.
Ruling on a batch of petitions that challenged the constitutional validity of Aadhaar, the Supreme Court said, "It is not mandatory to provide Aadhaar for CBSE, UGC or NEET exams."
"Education has taken us from thumb impression to signature, now technology has taken us from signature to thumb impression," said the Supreme Court.
The Court also struck down Section 57 of the Aadhaar Act, which means that private companies cannot ask for Aadhaar numbers of the consumers.
"Bio-metric data shall not be shared with any agency without the permission of the court," the top court observed. It also asked the central government to introduce a strong data protection law at the earliest.
The key arguments of the petitioners were on fundamental issues of privacy, surveillance, data protection, consent and legislative processes.
The challenges against Aadhaar had started even before the law came into existence in 2016. During the course of the hearing the court, on March 13, had indefinitely extended the deadline for linking Aadhaar with bank accounts and mobile phone numbers.
Over one billion Indians have already signed up for Aadhaar.
(With Inputs From ANI)