Shooting The Messenger In Aadhaar Breach Case? Reality Check

09 January, 2018, 01:58 | Author: Essie Rivera
  • After UIDAI Files FIR Against Tribune Journalist Ravi Shankar Prasad Says Case Is ‘Against Unknown Person

The Tribune report, dated January 3, had stated: "It took just Rs 500, paid through Paytm, and 10 minutes in which an "agent" of the group running the racket created a "gateway" for this correspondent and gave a login ID and password".

The FIR - which also names Anil Kumar, Sunil Kumar and Raj, the people contacted during the course of reporting - has been lodged with the Crime Branch's cyber cell under IPC Sections 419 (punishment for cheating by impersonation), 420 (cheating), 468 (forgery) and 471 (using as genuine a forged document), as well Section 66 of the IT Act and Section 36/37 of the Aadhaar Act.

Police sources clarified on Sunday night that those named in the complaint were not being seen as accused but would be questioned.

Facing severe criticism for acting against a newspaper that reported on an alleged Aadhaar data breach, the BJP-led central government said on Monday that it was fully committed to the freedom of Press.

"But, all those who have been there in the chain of incident in which the crime has been committed, have to be mentioned, including unknowns in the FIR, so that police can make proper investigation in the interest of justice", the statement said.

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The Jammu Newspapers Editors Guild JNEG said that it "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". On its official Twitter handle, it said, "UIDAI is committed to the freedom of Press". On Reality Check, we discuss whether this is a case of shooting the messenger.

The UIDAI issued a statement defending its move. "However, your communication, asking either to send response to your queries or you would presume that there was no access to any fingerprints and/or iris scan, indicates that the matter is not being dealt with seriously", the reply says.

"It is reiterated that complete facts have already been given in the news reports published by The Tribune".

Accusing Prasad of "shedding crocodile tears", Tewari said: "They need to withdraw that FIR unilaterally and that is where the proof of the pudding would be, as to whether his government believes in the freedom of speech or expression or whether it believes in the freedom of the press... if this is not fascism, if this is not trying to muzzle dissent, if this is not gross abuse of state authority, then I am afraid we possibly don't have a definition".

He added: "The creative community sensed this crisis as early as 2014 and launched a protest, popularly known as 'award wapsi', but the government has continued systematic coercion of the media which has dared to report the truth".

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