The Unique Identification Authority of India (UIDAI) has approached the Supreme Court (SC) challenging a Bombay High Court (HC) order which asked it to consider sharing biometric data collected from people with the CBI in order to help the investigating agency solve a rape case in Goa.
The UIDAI rushed to the apex court after the Panaji bench of the HC had on February 26 passed an interim order directing the Director-General, Central Forensic and Scientific Laboratory (CFSL), New Delhi, to appoint an expert to ascertain if its data base has the technological capability for matching the chance fingerprints electronically obtained.
In a special leave petition, the UIDAI contended that the order would set a bad precedent, besides opening floodgates of similar requests by various investigative agencies/ police calling for information, including biometrics of residents for the purpose of investigation.
It claimed that biometric data cannot be shared without the consent of the resident and as per its current data-sharing policy and guidelines.
Notably, the SC is already seized with a bunch of PILs, including the one filed by former Karnataka HC Justice K S Puttaswamy, challenging the validity of the scheme.
In its plea, the UIDAI submitted that more than 60 crore residents have enrolled themselves for Aadhaar by providing their demographic and biometric information for civilian application only and sharing the data would endanger the fundamental rights of the citizens.
“Building a system that can search using latent fingerprints, quite like criminal database searches, is not within the Constitutional and legal mandate and scope of the UIDAI and fundamentally against the core reason residents have provided their data voluntarily to UIDAI,” it said.
“The right to privacy is one of the basic human right of an individual and UIDAI is committed to protect this aspect,” it added.
The director-general of the UIDAI was directed to provide necessary data to the CBI. The probe agency sought the data base, including biometrics of persons from Goa, so that those could be compared with the ones obtained from the crime scene for the purpose of investigating rape of a minor girl in a school premises in Vasco.
The UIDAI came into existence on January 28, 2009, for providing 12-digit Aadhaar number to those citizens who registered themselves. Its purpose is envisaged as a means to enhance delivery of welfare benefits and services.
The number is stored in a secure database and linked to the basic demographics and biometric information–photograph, 10 fingerprints and iris–of each individual.