The Kerala High Court on Monday sought the response of the Central Government, the State Government and the Union Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology to a plea challenging the collection of Aadhaar data for the Unified District Information System for Education Plus (UDISE+) [The Democratic Alliance for Knowledge Freedom Society v Union of India & Ors.]..Justice VG Arun admitted the plea and issued notice to the Centre and the State with the government pleader accepting notice on behalf of the Kerala government. .The plea was filed by the Democratic Alliance for Knowledge Freedom Society (petitioner), a registered society that aims to promote freedom in knowledge domains, especially through the use of free software and public domain resources.The petitioner raised concerns about compulsory collection of students' Aadhaar data by State governments for the UDISE+ platform as directed in a 2023 letter issued by the Central Department of School Education and Literacy.The petitioner contended that Aadhaar detail collection is unnecessary for fund disbursement for Centrally-funded school education schemes such as the Samagra Shiksha Abhiyan, or for achieving full student enrollment, and promoting good governance.Therefore, the petitioner urged the Court to direct the Central government and the Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology to delete or refrain from transferring such personal information collected from students and their parents on the UDISE+ portal..UDISE+ is a program initiated by the Department of School Education and Literacy under the Ministry of Education in India for organizing and classifying school data nationwide..The petitioner contended that the demand for Aadhaar information of students on this platform lacks any specific purpose and violates the Unique Identification Authority of India (UIDAI) circular, which clarifies that no child should be denied benefits or rights on the ground of lack of Aadhaar.The petitioner further submitted that the emphasis on Aadhaar collection from students in letters from the Central authorities, particularly in the letters dated July 23, 2022 and June 26, 2023, lack a clear objective.The plea also highlighted that Aadhaar numbers are gathered from students without the presence of a consent mechanism, thereby raising concerns about the compelled collection of personal information, including Aadhaar numbers, without clear transparency on how the data will be used.“The vast collection of data at a centralized level with no proper mechanism to obtain informed consent from the parents is arbitrary and illegal,” said the plea..It further pointed out that the Central government, the Ministry of Electronics and the State government are bound to follow the Digital Personal Data Protection Act, 2023 brought out in tune with the directions of the Apex Court in Justice KS Puttuswamy v. Union of India..The plea further underscored that it is the fundamental right of children aged 6 to 14 to receive free education, as outlined in the Right of Children to Free and Compulsory Education Act (RTE Act). While so, the plea added that schools do not have to collect Aadhaar information for student enrollment. Schools could rely on birth certificates for age verification and admission under Section 14 of the RTE Act, the plea stated. .Pertinently, the petitioner highlighted that there is no Central Government rule mandating the provision of Aadhaar data after admission for the maintenance of enrollment data or student registry, as specified in Section 38 of the RTE Act.“The Central Government vide circular dated 05/09/2018 emphasized that: “no children are deprived/denied of their due benefits for want of Aadhaar”, and that no child must be denied admission to a school in case they do not have an Aadhaar,” the petitioner submitted..The matter will be heard next on November 23..The petitioner was represented by advocates Prasanth Sugathan, Varsha Bhaskar, Anupama Sibi, N Krishna Ozhakkanat, Malavika K and Ammu Charles. The plea was filed with legal support from the Software Freedom Law Center India (SFLC.in).