Give students UIDs to check bogus admission: SC to Kerala

More than 60 lakh schoolchildren in Kerala will soon have their Unique Identification Cards, thanks to a Supreme Court order given on Wednesday. The order to the Education Department of Kerala government, if implemented, will make the state first in the country where all schoolchildren would have Aadhaar cards.

The order is significant as it will not just provide students with an identity-proof but, more importantly, will ensure that public money is not diverted to aided schools that include fictitious student names on their rolls for government fund.

Wrong recording of attendance data that schools supply to government by showing bogus admissions had led to "irregular and illegal" fixation of staff strength of schools in 2008-09 and 2009-10.

While adjudicating a petition, the Kerala High Court had expressed dismay at the manipulation done by a school management that showed 80 students of other schools as its own students. It ordered for "verification of actual students in all aided schools in the state by the police".

But the state government appealed to the Supreme Court that the police could not be given the role and the education department had to do it under statutory provisions.

It said the presence of police in schools would embarrass the students and give a wrong impression to them about the conduct of their teachers and other staff.

When the Bench led by Justice K S Radhakrishnan asked the state to evolve a better method, the state, in an additional affidavit, said the number of students in a school could be determined through UID. The state said after preparing the Aadhaar cards, it could be sent to the education department for reconciling the data. It informed the court that a circular on this was issued in October 2011.

The apex court accepted the suggestion and directed the state to distribute Aadhaar cards to all schoolchildren. It also set aside the High Court order on an investigation by the police.

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