Why is it mandatory for students from minority communities to apply online for scholarships meant to benefit them, the Delhi High Court asked the Centre on Thursday.
“Why have you made it mandatory to apply online only,” a bench of Chief Justice G Rohini and Justice Sangita Dhingra Sehgal said and asked the Centre to file its response to it.
The bench told a petitioner that the challenge to Centre’s decision making Aadhaar card mandatory for students from the minority communities to apply for scholarships has been taken care of by the Supreme Court, which was seized of the matter.
“The first prayer (for making Aadhaar card mandatory) has been taken care of by the Supreme Court. The Supreme Court is seized of the issue and we do not need to pass any order,” the bench said.
The petitioner, West Bengal-based Nasimuddin Educational and Charitable Trust, said they would not press for the first prayer but were challenging the decision which has made it mandatory to apply for scholarships online only.
“Lakhs of minority students may not be able to apply online. They (government) should allow offline application also,” advocate Pranav Sachdeva, appearing for the petitioner, said.
The Centre, however, said the apex court has already dealt with these issues.
The court fixed the matter for hearing on December 7.
In its plea, the petitioner has claimed that the policy of making Aadhaar card mandatory for applying for pre-matric, post-matric and merit-cum-means scholarships meant to benefit students from minority communities, was “arbitrary”.
Challenging the constitutional validity of the need for Aadhaar card and applying online for the scholarships, the plea alleged it was a violation of Supreme Court’s judgement which had said that Aadhar would not be mandatory for availing the benefits of government’s welfare schemes.
The plea said that Muslims, Christians, Sikhs, Buddhists, Jains and Zoroastrians (Parsis) have been notified as minority communities under Section 2(c) of the National Commission for Minorities Act, 1992.
It claimed that the policy of “compelling” students to apply through the online process “smacks of non-application of mind since the students most in need of scholarship might not have access to computer, internet or the requisite knowledge of online application”.
The petition referred to the July 14 communication of the Ministry of Minority Affairs (MoMA) which had asked the chief secretary or administrators of states to advertise for various national scholarships of the ministry.
It has also sought setting aside of this communication, besides a direction to the government to allow students to apply for national scholarships through offline means.