BENGALURU: In what can only be termed ironical, illegal immigrants are increasingly finding it easy to obtain Aadhaar numbers, while police investigating their antecedents have found nothing but denial from Unique Identification Authority of India (UIDAI).
This despite a Supreme Court order which directs UIDAI to divulge the required information to law enforcement agencies.
The issue was discussed in a meeting of police officials from the State recently, after several requests by the law enforcement agencies regarding Aadhaar data of persons accused of crimes, did not evoke the necessary response.
A case in point was an incident reported in Bangarpet police station limits in Kolar district. Six months ago, three people were nabbed in connection with a petty crime. Police investigating the crime and checking the antecedents of the accused found they had valid Aadhaar numbers, after the three admitted they were immigrants from Bangladesh.
When the police tried to find out what documents had been submitted for them to procure the number, they were met with blank denial from UIDAI, which informed them that they were not authorised to divulge the information.
DG&IGP Om Prakash, commenting on the issue, acknowledged that police were facing such issues. “We have expressed our concerns and the issue is being dealt with at an appropriate level at the Centre,” he said. This will help law enforcement agencies in accessing the required information, he added.
Law enforcement agencies saw a ray of hope in the Supreme Court order of August last year. An interim order passed on August 11 in a writ petition (WP 494/2012) challenging the validity of Aadhaar card, read, “The information about an individual obtained by the UIDAI while issuing an Aadhaar card shall not be used for any other purpose, ….., except as may be directed by a court for the purpose of criminal investigation.”
To a question on immigrants possessing Aadhaar numbers, a UIDAI official, on condition of anonymity, said that the Aadhaar numbers were genuine. “It might have been issued to immigrants, who have resided in the country long enough to get the required documents, using which Aadhaar numbers could be issued,” he said. He maintained that Aadhaar was not a document of citizenship.
Aadhaar numbers to immigrants has raised several questions, such as whether immigrants can access social welfare schemes such as Direct Benefit Transfer too and whether UIDAI was working on weeding out or cancelling such numbers.
While UIDAI officials said that there have been no processes to weed out such numbers, consumer activists have raised concerns over how Aadhaar numbers could be misused.
Consumer activist V L Somashekar said that such incidents, which have been reported across the country, were a good enough reason to delink Aadhaar numbers from welfare schemes.
“Immigrants are not eligible for benefits under such schemes. But such loopholes are being exploited,” he said. While such cases persist, it is surprising that Aadhaar numbers are considered valid identity documents even during elections, he added.