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New Delhi: The Delhi high court on Thursday issued notice to the Union government on its rule requiring students from minority communities to submit their Aadhaar unique identification (UID) numbers for availing of scholarships.

The ministry of minority affairs mandates Aadhaar for pre-matric, post-matric and merit-cum-means scholarships it offers through the National Scholarship web portal to students from minority communities.

A bench headed by chief justice G. Rohini sought the government’s response within two weeks.

She was hearing a public interest litigation (PIL) brought by the Nasimuddin Educational & Charitable Trust, a non-governmental organization, which also challenged the option of having only an online scholarship application process for minority students.

It alleged that a policy forcing a student to apply only online and compulsorily submitting Aadhaar is “unconstitutional, arbitrary, unjust" and violates Article 14 (Right to Equality). It further says that having an online application process alone discriminates against students who do not have access to the Internet.

According to the petitioner, such a policy is unlawful as it is in violation of a Supreme Court judgment which had hold that the UID number cannot be made mandatory for any citizen to avail of benefits under any government scheme or scholarship.

On 11 August 2015, the Supreme Court had held that Aadhaar cannot be made mandatory for any government scheme and subsequently restricted the use of the unique identity number to a few schemes.

This is currently under challenge in a contempt petition against the government for allegedly making use of Aadhaar numbers mandatory.

In March, the government passed the Aadhaar (Targeted Delivery of Financial and Other Subsidies, Benefits and Services) Bill as a money bill.

A challenge to the passage of the law as a money bill is also being heard by the apex court. The matter will be heard next on 23 September.

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