ITANAGAR: The All Arunachal Pradesh Students’ Union (AAPSU) slammed the state government’s recent announcement to make Aadhaar registration mandatory for students to avail their stipends.

At a high-level meeting chaired by deputy chief minister Chowna Mein on December 7, it was decided that the state government will frame a Stipend Policy and make Aadhaar registration compulsory if students are to avail their due stipends owed by the state government.

This decision was made contrary to the Supreme Court’s order that Aadhaar cannot be made mandatory for citizens to avail benefits.

In September this year, the top court ordered the Centre to remove a condition making it mandatory for the students to give their Aadhaar numbers for various scholarship schemes.

The Centre had earlier written to chief secretaries and administrators of all states and union territories that only online application under the National Scholarship Scheme will be accepted stating that “submission of Aadhaar is mandatory.”

The Supreme Court had directed the Centre to remove Aadhaar number as a mandatory condition for students’ registration form at the National Scholarship Portal. However, if the Arunachal Pradesh government does act on the recent decision it could violate the top court’s order. And while the government may not be aware of the directive, the powerful student's’ body is.

AAPSU general secretary Tobom Dai said that state government’s decision is in violation of the Supreme Court’s order and that the union “out rightly rejects” the decision.

Apart from the fact that the decision could bring legal trouble for the state government, the union is also opposed to it considering the fact that much of the state’s population resides in rural areas where connectivity and communication are major hurdles when it comes to availing government benefits.

Speaking to reporters here, AAPSU president Hawa Bagang said that students in remote rural areas of the state are yet to enrol in the Aadhaar scheme which will deprive them from getting their stipends.

“The government should seek alternative means instead of linking Aadhaar with students’ accounts,” he said and added that the union will assist the state government to streamline the process if necessary. He also said that AAPSU is “well aware of the huge embezzlement of funds released for students’ stipends.

Dai also said that “there is so much difficulty in obtaining the said card even in urban areas leave alone rural areas where it is beyond imagination”.