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Can Aadhar data be shared for the purpose of criminal law enforcement?

  • Category
    Polity & Governance
  • Published
    17th May, 2022

Overview

  • What is the plea of the Delhi High Court?
  • What is the present case about?
  • Data UIDAI collects
    • Demographic information includes
    • Biometric information includes 10 fingerprints
  • Is Confidentiality of data guaranteed under the Aadhaar Act?

Context

Aadhar data cannot be the source of identification of any criminal case inquiry, according to the UIDAI.

  • The Delhi High court has asked police to use the Aadhar details for matching the criminal fingerprints for identifying the culprit.

Background

About UIDAI

  • The UIDAI, which issues the unique Aadhaar number to residents of India, is prohibited by law from sharing any core biometric information with police.
  • UIDAI is the authority that collects demographic and biometric information of residents at site.

What is the present case is about?

  • The police recovered 14 chance prints from the spot and footage from CCTV cameras in the area showing one of the suspects.
  • The chance impressions and pictures did not match with any of the data already available with the police.
  • Investigators now want to cast the net wider, using Aadhaar’s biometric database

What Aadhar card contains?

  • Aadhar is a 12-digit unique identity number that can be obtained voluntarily by the citizens of India and resident foreign nationals who have spent over 182 days in twelvemonths immediately preceding the date of application for enrolment, based on their biometric and demographic data. 
  • Name, Address, Date of birth, Gender, Mobile phone number, Email address is mentioned in Aadhar card of a person with his/her biometric details including
    • The fingerprints
    •  iris scans
    • The resident’s photograph

 Is Confidentiality of data guaranteed under the Aadhaar Act?

  • The Aadhaar Act requires the UIDAI to ensure confidentiality and security of the identity information it collects.
  • The UIDAI has also said that no Aadhaar data can be shared by any individual or entity with anyone without the consent of the resident or holder of the Aadhaar.
  • Section 33, the provision under which Delhi Police has approached the court, allows the disclosure of only identification information including photograph or authentication records, but no core biometric information.
  • Also, this provision states that the court cannot pass any order in such matter “without giving an opportunity of hearing to the UIDAI”.
  • On September 26th 2018, the Supreme Court delivered its judgment. It upheld the Aadhaar Act as constitutionally valid.

Judicial backing

  • It ruled that the Act empowers disenfranchised sections of society by providing them better access to fundamental entitlements, such as State subsidies.
  • The Court held that the Act was competently passed by Parliament, even though it was passed as a Money Bill.
  • The Court held that the Act does not violate the fundamental rights guaranteed under Articles 14, 15, 19 and 21.

Practice Question

Q1. Discuss the key issues involved in sharing of Aadhar details for criminal investigation. Discuss how to strike balance between personal privacy and public security.

Q2. Discuss the evolving jurisprudence of data use and protection laws in India. What are some of the most contentious issues in this regard? Examine.

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