In June, NCRB director Ish Kumar said at a public event there is need for “limited access” to the Aadhaar database for criminal investigations. Minister of State for Home Hansraj Ahir said the government “will try” as “it appears to be very important.” The next day, on June 23, UIDAI issued a statement clarifying that the Aadhaar Act does not allow Aadhaar data to be used for criminal investigations. It further said that it had never shared any data with a criminal investigation body. Now it emerges the Ministry of Home Affairs is proposing scaling up fingerprint collection and linking it with its Crime and Criminal Tracking Network System (CCTNS) to aid criminal investigations. The MHA is also proposing integrating facial recognition and iris scan, according to the Indian Express.

Fingerprints, face recognition data to be integrated with central database

NCRB is the nodal agency for implementation of CCTNS, which is envisioned as a real-time central database of criminals and crime incidents. It aims to connect all police stations across the country — with all their crime and criminal data — to a central database. The first phase of CCTNS involved connecting all police stations. In its second phase, the MHA is planning to scale up fingerprint collection and integrate the fingerprint database stored with Central Finger Print Bureau (CFPB), and use NIST Fingerprint Image Software (NFIS), a technology used by the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), for matching fingerprints.

The MHA is collecting 30 lakh fingerprints by connecting data stored with state fingerprint bureaus. It currently has a database of 10 lakh fingerprints. The plan is to store all data from crime scene investigations across the country. Annually, close to 50 lakh cases are registered. The Indian Express quoted an anonymous source as saying that the National Informatics Centre is already working on a cloud for integration.

Meanwhile, the police have also expressed interest in gaining access to Aadhaar Data from the UIDAI. Goa DGP Muktesh Chander told The Week that “limited access” to the Aadhaar database would help in solving crimes very fast. “I would like to have an access to the Aadhaar database for the limited purpose of identification of unidentified dead bodies and solving cases of murder where the bodies are unidentified,” he said.

“When the police has a suspect in its custody who is refusing to divulge his identity and uses an alias, we can get his real name and details in a single step if we can ask him to put his finger on the device and access his Aadhaar details,” Chander told The Week. He suggested that senior police officers can send a request for identification to the Aadhaar authorities who can study the case details and assist the agencies, he added.