New Delhi: The Supreme Court on Monday ordered the Unique Identification Authority of India (UIDAI) not to share its biometric database with any agency without the consent of those who are on the database, television news reports said.

Reportedly, the apex court also directed the withdrawal of all orders that make the 12-digit unique identity number Aadhaar, issued by the UIDAI, mandatory for services.

The court order was not made public till the time of going into press.

UIDAI had moved the apex court after the Goa high court ordered it to share with the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) the biometric details of everyone who is enrolled in Goa.

The high court order was aimed at helping investigations into a 14-month-old rape case in Goa that is yet to be solved, newspapers reported last week.

UIDAI contested the order in the Bombay high court, and moved the Supreme Court after the Bombay high court also directed the Central Forensic Science Laboratory to assess the agency’s database for matching with fingerprints obtained during the criminal investigation.

UIDAI argued before the Supreme Court that its database is for civilian purposes and cannot be shared without consent under the agency’s current data-sharing and privacy policy, according to news reports about the matter.

UIDAI, an attached office of the Planning Commission, is already fighting a batch of public interest litigations (PILs), lumped together in a single case, questioning the validity of the programme in the apex court.

An interim order issued on 23 September in that case said, “No person should suffer for not getting the Aadhaar card in spite of the fact that some authority had issued a circular making it mandatory and when any person applies to get the Aadhaar card voluntarily, it may be checked whether that person is entitled for it under the law and it should not be given to any illegal immigrant."

Meanwhile, media outlet Cobrapost claimed in a note on its website that Aadhaar enrolment agents, who are registered with UIDAI for issuing Aadhaar, agreed to give it out to illegal immigrants in return for “a prescribed fee".

Mint could not verify the identity of the enrolment agents named in the videos posted on the Cobrapost site on Monday.

The Cobrapost note said, “Almost in all cases, the Aadhaar officers asked for a photograph and address written on a piece of paper for the purpose of making an affidavit, as proof of identity. The affidavit had to be countersigned by the local MLA or a gazetted officer, thus making it valid. No one bothered to check the antecedents of our immigrant applicants."

UIDAI declined to comment on either matter and emails sent to top officials remained unanswered. However, a senior government official, aware of the development, said UIDAI had begun investigations into the Cobrapost matter.

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