Shimla Press Club condemn UIDAI action and termed it uncalled for and a brazen attack on the freedom of press

A deputy director of the Unique Identification Authority of India (UIDAI) has registered an FIR against The Tribune newspaper and its reporter following report on how anonymous sellers over social media were allegedly providing access to Aadhaar numbers for a fee.

Reporter has been booked under IPC sections 419 (punishment for cheating under impersonation), 420 (cheating), 468 (forgery), 471 (using a forged document) and also under sections of the IT Act and the Aadhar Act.

Following the UIDAI legal action, journalists across the country have condemned the UIDAI action. Scores of journalists held demonstrations in Punjab, Chandigarh and Himachal today to protest against the UIDAI’s move to register a case against The Tribune newspaper and one of its reporters for exposing illegal data leak of Aadhaar details.

Calling UIDAI FIR unfair, unjustified and a direct attack on the freedom of the press, in Shimla Office bearers of Press Club, Shimla led by its President Dhananjay Sharma called on Governor Acharya Devvrat at Raj Bhavan, and presented a memorandum regarding registration of FIR by Delhi Police against a news reporter for publishing news regarding breech of secrecy of Unique Identification Authority of India (UIDAI) scheme.

They said that the action of the UIDAI was uncalled for and a brazen attack on the freedom of press and condemn it and woo to fight it out. They added that it was not only an attempt to bully a newspaper but also beginning of a new trend which if not stopped could pose a great threat to freedom of press and democracy.

Editors Guild condemns FIR against Tribune reporter who exposed Aadhar Leaks

The Editors Guild of India also concerned over the FIR against a reporter of The Tribune. Raj Chengappa, President – The Editors Guild of India – in a press statement said that The Tribune report of January 3 by Khaira had exposed how, for a small sum of money made to a payment bank, an agent of a private group would allegedly create a gateway to access details contained in an individual’s Aadhar card. Using a false identity, Khaira had posed as an interested party and claimed in her report that she had easy access to details that individuals had listed in their Aadhar cards. The UIDAI in a statement had subsequently denied that any data breach was possible.

The Guild condemns UIDAI’s action to have the Tribune reporter booked by the police as 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 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.