Between 1-1.5% of all Aadhaar enrollment made in the last seven years have mixed biometrics according to highly placed sources in the UIDAI, reported the New Indian Express. The report pegs the number of Aadhaar enrollment with mixed biometrics at around 600,00–900,000 in Karnataka and around 13–19 million in the rest of the country. The UIDAI is now in the process of identifying such mixed biometric data, has written letters to Aadhaar holders, and is organising camps across the country to reverse the errors. The dates of such camps are being communicated only to those affected.

Why this problem is so widespread

Biometrics of family members and relatives were ‘mixed up’ during the initial phases of enrollment of Aadhaar, back when it was undertaken in campaign mode. “In order to meet targets, some enrolling agencies used biometrics of accompanying relatives if they were not able to register the biometric data of the person who was getting enrolled. Ramifications of this are emerging now as some people are facing problems to avail Aadhaar-linked essential services,” an officer told NIE.

A case in which biometric data is mixed-up will become known to the authorities and even to the holder only when there is an error in which the biometric of the holder does not check out and they are unable to avail of services or benefits. The holder may remain oblivious to the error until such a situation presents itself. According to the report, the e-governance department in Karnataka has been receiving 450 complaints every month with regard to such issues.

“There are also several cases of biometric data not being captured properly. UIDAI is identifying such cases and addressing their grievances,” NIE quoted an anonymous UIDAI source as saying. 

Not the first case of biometric mix-up

In 2017, the Times of India reported that the UIDAI has suspended more than 100,000 Aadhaar numbers in Telangana and Andhra Pradesh over mix-up of biometrics with family members and staff at Aadhaar enrollment centres as one among other reasons including false biometrics and attempts to enroll for a second time. “Currently, we are only suspending Aadhaar cards over mix-up of biometrics. In the future, Aadhaar cards of children of five years and 15 years will be suspended if they do not update it.” a UIDAI official told TOI. There were 20,000–30,000 cases of biometrics getting mixed up with those of enrollment staff in the two states.