Census Director Vincent P. Barabba said yesterday the Census Bureau will refuse to comply with a federal court order directing the agency to turn over address lists to the city and state of New York.

"This position was taken by the bureau in view of its belief that federal statutory law prohibits disclosure of information in these lists and because such disclosure would seriously distort public perception of the bureau's ability to guarantee confidentiality," Barabba said in a statement.

New York had filed suit against the bureau, claiming that the as-yet-unfinished enumeration would miss large numbers of New York residents, resulting in a loss of congressional representation and federal funds.

The court ordered the bureau to turn over to New York the address registers, the forms used to list information collected from households from which mailed questionnaires had not been returned, and lists of vacant and non-existent housing units.

The bureau said the confidentiality of such lists is guaranteed by the United States Code. Federal officials turned to the bureau for the names and addresses of Japanese-Americans after the attack on Pearl Harbor in 1941, and were turned down. And in the 1950s the bureau declined to cooperate in efforts to track down suspected Communists.