Upholding the State government’s move to introduce Aadhaar Enabled Biometric Attendance System (AEBAS) in all government schools and government aided schools, the Madras High Court has directed it to implement the system as expeditiously as possible to ensure proper attendance of the teachers in all educational institutions.
Moreover, citing Section 7 of the Aadhaar Act, she submitted that Aadhaar number was required only for establishing the identity of an individual as a condition for receipt of a subsidy, benefit or service, where the expenditure was incurred from or the receipt was a part of the Consolidated Fund of India.
Thus, the imposition of Aadhaar-based authentication for any purpose other than those mentioned in Section 7 of the Aadhaar Act lacked basic jurisdictional authority. This apart, the mandatory implementation of AEBAS directly contravened the recent decision of the Supreme Court in the KS Puttaswamy case, she contended.
Her counsel Arun Karthik Mohan submitted that the Aadhaar based biometric system contravened Article 21 of the Constitution, not only infringing the right of privacy, but also, the right to dignity, autonomy and free choice.
However, Justice Subramaniam set aside the submission, stating that when the government thought it fit to introduce such an advanced system for the purpose of ensuring fool proof attendance system in public services, the same cannot be objected by any one, especially a school teacher who is expected to be a role model for young children.
Also, holding that no fundamental rights under the Constitution was absolute and that the exercise of it was always subject to restrictions by the State, the judge said, “The right to privacy is to be protected and such a right to privacy cannot be extended so as to curtail the government from introducing Aadhaar enabled biometric attendance system in government schools, which would provide a better administration as far as the Education Department is concerned.”
“The government is forced to implement such Aadhaar enabled biometric attendance system in view of frequent complaints in public domain that the teachers in government schools were not attending the school in time and leaving the school before the school hours, and these teachers are involving in various other activities unconnected with their teaching profession,” Justice Subramaniam said.
He also noted that the introduction of such a system was done in public interest and to improve the efficiency level of public administration. This being the policy decision taken by the government, the petitioner cannot question it, the judge said, adding that it was for her to take a decision either to continue her services or to leave the job.