Get Aadhaar Or Else Leave The Job: Madras HC Tells Teacher Who Challenged Biometric Attendance System [Read Order]
“The Writ Petitioner cannot say that she cannot be compelled to get an Aadhaar Number for the purpose of attending the School”
The Madras High Court, while rejecting a plea of a teacher challenging introduction of Aadhaar Enabled Biometric Attendance System in Government Schools, asked her to either get enrolled herself to Aadhaar or to leave the service.
R. Annal, a teacher in a Government High School, had challenged the implementation of Aadhar Enabled Biometric Attendance System for Teaching and Non-Teaching Staff employed in Government and Government Aided High Schools or Higher Secondary Schools across Tamil Nadu. She submitted that she has not enrolled under the Aadhaar as the same is not mandatory. She contended that the mandatory implementation of Aadhar Enabled Biometric Attendance System directly contravenes the Constitution bench judgment in Aadhaar case.
Justice SM Subramaniam observed that collecting the individual particulars and identification as far as the Government servants are concerned, cannot be construed as violation of the Fundamental Rights ensured under the Constitution of India. The court also said that the constitution bench judgment would not be applicable in this case, as the petitioner, a public servant, is governed by the Tamil Nadu Government Servants Service Rules. The Public servants while accepting the offer of appointment, made a declaration that they will abide by the Service Rules and other conditions imposed by the Government of Tamil Nadu for the betterment of the Administration, the court added. It said:
"The details of the public servants are very much recorded in Service Registers also. The identifications are also available. In order to ensure better system to secure prompt attendance of these Teachers and Non Teaching staffs in Government Schools, the Government thought that Aadhar Enabled Biometric Attendance System will be of greater support to monitor any indiscipline or otherwise, if any by the Teachers and non-teaching staff working in Government Schools. In a growing indiscipline amongst the public servants, it necessitated the State Government to introduce such technology for the purpose of improving the efficiency level in the public administration."
The court added that the though the Right to Privacy is to be protected, but such a right cannot curtail the Government from introducing Aadhar Enabled Biometric Attendance System in Government Schools, which would provide a better administration as far as the Education Department is concerned. The court further said that the Aadhar Enabled Biometric Attendance System is systematically being implemented by the Government of India, High Courts and by other public institutions across the country. It said:
"Any better system by adopting the best technology, cannot be objected by a person, who is none other than the Teacher working in the School. If at all, the Teacher is not possessing the Aadhaar Number, then it is for her to register her name and get an Aadhaar Number and accordingly, attend the School through Aadhar Enabled Biometric Attendance System. Contrarily, the writ petitioner cannot say that she cannot be compelled to get an Aadhaar Number for the purpose of attending the School. The choice is of the writ petitioner. If the writ petitioner is willing to continue as a public servant, then she is bound to abide by the Service Conditions. If she is not willing to undergo such system, which all are introduced by the Government in the public interest, then the petitioner has to take a decision, whether to continue in service or to leave the service. However, the petitioner cannot object such a system introduced for the improvements of the School Administration"
Giving an anti climax to the writ petition, the judge directed the state authorities to implement the Aadhar Enabled Biometric Attendance System in all the Government Schools and Government Aided institutions as per the Government policy as expeditiously as possible, so as to ensure proper attendance to the Teaching and Non-Teaching Staff working in all educational institutions.