The Delhi High Court has directed the Unique Identification Authority of India (UIDAI) to disclose information of over 400 aadhar card holders who were allegedly issued fake aadhar card certificates for the purpose of enrolment in civil defence training in the city.
Justice Chandra Dhari Singh was dealing with a case wherein the investigation revealed that in the year 2019, the then District Magistrate of Shahdara, along with others public servants had committed criminal misconduct by abusing their official position with an ulterior motive to give benefit to ineligible persons, approximately 450 candidates with fake Aadhar Cards who had enrolled for training in Civil Defence.
The case emerged after a complaint was received by city’s Anti Corruption Branch alleging that the manner of recruitment of marshals for DTC buses was illegal.
It was alleged that the recruitment process was manipulated by the District Magistrate who had issued fake certificates, certifying as Delhi residents for making Aadhaar Cards, to over 400 people from his home state of Rajasthan.
Furthermore, it was alleged that a large number of Aadhaar Cards with bogus Delhi addresses were made for persons from Rajasthan at the Aadhaar Centre functioning in the office of District Magistrate on 11th and 12th August 2019.
Accordingly, an FIR was registered on 24th January 2020 under sec. 7 of the Prevention of Corruption Act, 1988 read with sec. 120B of the Indian Penal Code.
APP Kusum Dhalla appearing for the prosecution therefore prayed for a direction to the UIDAI for disclosure of information, as per sec. 33(1) of the Aadhaar (Targeted Delivery of Financial And Other Subsidies, Benefits And Services) Act, 2016 in relation to the allegedly fake Aadhaar Cards, required for investigation of the case.
The said provision provides for disclosure of information in certain cases.
“Nothing contained in sub-section (2) or sub-section (5) of section 28 or sub-section (2) of section 29 shall apply in respect of any disclosure of information, including identity information or authentication records, made pursuant to an order of a court not inferior to that of a District Judge,” sec. 33(1) of the Act reads.
It was therefore submitted that sec. 33(1) of the Act that dealt with Disclosure of Information under the Aadhaar Act, has been amended by the Aadhaar and Other Laws (Amendment) Act, 2019 thus enabling the Court to order on disclosure of information including the identity and authentication information of the Aadhaar Card holder.
It was further submitted that the information as being sought by the Investigation Agency for purpose of verification fell within the ambit of ‘identity information’ as defined under sec. 2(n) of the Aadhaar Act.
It was also added that a disclosure of such information by the UIDAI will in no way amount to invasion of right to privacy of the card holders.
On the other hand, Advocate Nidhi Raman appearing for UIDAI submitted that the Authority had no objection in sharing the said information to the extent and in a manner as permissible under the provisions of the Aadhar Act.
Accordingly, the Court directed thus:
“The Respondent is hereby directed to provide all relevant information, qua the persons named in Annexure P-3 of the petition, as required for the purposes of investigation as per the provisions of the Aadhaar Act. The Investigation Agency is also directed to investigate the matter, upon receiving the requested information, with due regard to the provisions of the statute.”
The plea was accordingly disposed of.