January 8, 2018
The Unique Identification Authority of India (UIDAI), which has filed an FIR against a journalist who exposed a breach in its Aadhaar database, denied that it was trying to gag the media or whistleblowers.
Facing widespread criticism for filing a criminal complaint naming a journalist of The Tribune among others, the Authority said on Sunday that it was “duty bound” to place all facts before the police and criminal proceedings have been initiated for the act of unauthorized access as it takes “criminal violations seriously.”
In a statement on Sunday, the UIDAI, said “An FIR… has been registered in Cyber Cell of Delhi Police against Anil Kumar, Sunil Kumar, Raj, Rachna Khaira, The Tribune and other unknown persons for violations of Sections 36 and 37 of the Aadhaar Act, 2016, Sections 419 [punishment for cheating under impersonation], 420 [cheating], 468 [forgery] and 471 [using a forged document] of the IPC and Section 66 of the IT Act, 2000/8.”
“UIDAI’s act of filing an FIR with full details of the incident should not be viewed as UIDAI targeting the media or the whistle-blowers or ‘shooting the messenger’,” it said.
Editors Guild condemns
The Editors Guild of India, opposition parties and the local press clubs have condemned the action.
Expressing serious concern over the FIR, the Editors Guild of India said, “It is clearly meant to browbeat a journalist whose investigation on the matter was of great public interest. It is unfair, unjustified and a direct attack on the freedom of the press.”
“Instead of penalising the reporter, UIDAI should have ordered a thorough internal investigation into the alleged breach and made its findings public,” the Editors Guild said.
Mr. Raj Chengappa, President, Editors Guild of India, said, “The Guild demands that the concerned Union Ministry intervene and have the cases against the reporter withdrawn, apart from conducting an impartial investigation into the matter.”
According to the police, on January 4, 2018, a complaint was received from Deputy Director UIDAI B.M. Patnaik stating that an input had been received through The Tribune newspaper, dated January 3, 2018, mentioning that they had purchased a service being offered for ₹500 by anonymous sellers over ‘WhatsApp’. The service provided unrestricted access to details for any of more than one billion Aadhaar numbers.
In a statement on Sunday, the UIDAI said it was “duty-bound” to “disclose all the details of the case and name everyone who is an active participant in the chain of the events leading to commission of the crime, regardless of whether the person is a journalist or anyone else. It does not mean that all those who are named in the report are guilty or being targeted. Whether one is guilty or not will be decided after police investigations,” the statement said.
Source: The Hindu