The High Court of Karnataka has ordered the Unique Identification Authority of India (UIDAI) to provide documents/records of 12 Bangladeshi nationals, accused in a case being investigated by the National Agency investigation (NIA).
The NIA had requested this information from the UIDAI in a case involving cross-border human trafficking and forcing vulnerable Bangladeshi women into prostitution in Bengaluru and other towns.
The case was originally registered by Ramamurthynagar Police in June 2021 under various sections of the IPC, Aliens Act and Immoral Traffic (Prevention) Act.
It was revealed that the girls were first sent to Kolkata where fake Aadhaar cards were generated and subsequently they were forced into prostitution in other parts of the country.
Launching the investigation, the NIA filed the indictment in September 2021 and to uncover the wider conspiracy the agency wanted to verify the authenticity of the information and documents that led to the generation of the Aadhaar cards .
However, the NIA’s request for information was rejected by the UIDAI expressing its inability in view of the legal prohibition under Section 33 of the Aadhaar Act (Targeted Provision of Subsidies, Benefits and Services financial and other) of 2016.
It was argued on behalf of the UIDAI that the information in question, being classified as personal to the persons concerned, cannot be provided without a sanction order by a High Court Judge in accordance with Section 33.
Justice Krishna S Dixit observed that the protection of privacy rights and information within the domain of the UIDAI is limited to cases of “residents” as defined in Section 2(v). The court cited judgments from the Madras High Court as well as the Delhi High Court that information must be provided if it is requested for investigative purposes.
‘Applicant – NIA – shall not use subject information and materials for any purpose unrelated to the investigation of offenses and the prosecution of offenders,’ the court said.