The Unique Identification Authority of India said on Friday that the Aadhaar legislation does not allow the use of the biometric database in criminal investigation, PTI reported.

National Crime Records Bureau Director Ish Kumar had suggested on Thursday that most of the 50 lakh cases filed annually involved first-time offenders whose fingerprints are not available in police records. In response, Union Minister of State for Home Affairs Hansraj Ahir said the Centre would look into Kumar’s request for limited access to Aadhaar data for help with investigation.

The Unique Identification Authority of India, which maintains the Aadhaar database, said the use of Aadhaar data is not allowed under Section 29 of the Aadhaar Act, 2016. It said the biometric data had never been shared with any crime investigation agency.

Section 33 of the law, however, allows a “very limited” exception to this, said UIDAI. The section allows the use of or access to Aadhaar data in cases involving national security, only after an oversight committee headed by the cabinet secretary has authorised it.

Aadhaar data “can be used only for the purpose of generating Aadhaar and for authentication of identity of the Aadhaar holders and cannot be used for any other purpose”, the UIDAI said.

On Thursday, Ish Kumar had said: “There is need for access to Aadhaar data to police for the purpose of investigation. This is essential because 80% to 85% of the criminals every year are first-time offenders with no records [of them available] with the police. But they also leave their fingerprints while committing crime. There is need for limited access to Aadhaar, so that we can catch them.”

With access to Aadhaar, the police could easily identify more than 40,000 unidentified bodies that are recovered every year, and hand them over to their relatives, he added.

Kumar also sought the home ministry’s help in amending the Identification of Prisoners Act, 1920, so that modern biometric markers such as iris, veins, signature and voice can also be recorded.