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Linking Aadhaar to recruitment violates Constitutional right to equal opportunity: Punjab and Haryana High Court

The Punjab and Haryana High Court has ordered a stay on the entire recruitment process of the Maharishi Dayanand University, Rohtak. The application process for several posts in the university, including those of Assistant Professors, requires an Aadhaar Number in Step 1 of the application process, without which, the applicant cannot proceed to Step-2 and thus cannot complete their application.

“Linking Aadhaar Number to direct recruitment should not prima facie be a mandatory condition as it by (sic) result in the violation of equal opportunity clause in Article 16(1) of the Constitution of India and deny easy access to applying online for jobs.” the order by Judge Rajiv Narain Raina says.

“If the Aadhaar Number is required for the purpose of thumb impressions/biometrics, then some other method could have been devised by the University even by making a provision in the software programme to enable the candidates to continue to Step-2 of the application and apply on time. Otherwise, they will be confronted with denial of employment opportunity, which is a very serious and sacrosanct right in a country where employment opportunities are fought on war footing.”

Medianama’s take

This is a welcome move and will serve as important precedent in several cases where citizens without Aadhaar suffer considerable difficulties accessing important services.

Several organizations have made the Aadhaar number mandatory to access essential services. Last year, filing Income Tax returns was not possible without an Aadhaar number. There have been several instances of insurance companies not processing insurance claims against valid policies without an Aadhaar number being provided. Corporate employees are being forced to provide Aadhaar numbers because of Provident Fund requirements. The difficulties accessing PDS and pensions are well documented as well.

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(The Constitutional Validity of the Aadhaar Act is currently being challenged before a five-judge bench in the Supreme Court. You may follow our documentation of the proceedings here)

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