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Aadhaar case: Committed to freedom of press, says govt

New Delhi: Amid outrage on the FIR lodged over the reporting of alleged Aadhaar data breach, the government today said it has been filed against “unknown” accused while asserting its commitment to the freedom of the press.

Law Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad evoke that the Supreme Court had failed while the high courts had shown "great bravery" during the Emergency.
A day after the Delhi police confirmed registering of an FIR on January 5, based on a compliant by Aadhaar-issuing body UIDAI, IT Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad took to Twitter to clarify the government’s position on the issue.

A day after the Delhi police confirmed registering of an FIR on January 5, based on a compliant by Aadhaar-issuing body UIDAI, IT Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad took to Twitter to clarify the government’s position on the issue.

“The government is fully committed to freedom of Press as well as to maintaining security and sanctity of Aadhaar for India’s development. FIR is against unknown,” he said.

Though the complaint by Unique Identification Authority of India (UIDAI) named four persons, including the Chandigarh -based daily The Tribune’s reporter who had filed the story on alleged breach in Aadhaar database, Prasad said the FIR was against “unknown”.

“I’ve suggested UIDAI to request Tribune and its journalist to give all assistance to police in investigating real offenders,” he said.

After filing the police complaint, the UIDAI had said in a statement, “This is a case in which even though there was no breach of Aadhaar biometric database, because UIDAI takes every criminal violation seriously, it is for the act of unauthorised access, criminal proceedings have been initiated.”

The move attracted strong criticism from various media organisations, including The Editors Guild of India, which sought withdrawal of the case.

The Editor-in-Chief of The Tribune, Harish Khare, had said in a statement yesterday that “the authorities have misconceived an honest journalistic enterprise and have proceeded to institute criminal proceedings against the whistleblower”.

He said the daily would explore “all legal options” open to it to defend its freedom to undertake serious investigative journalism.

The UIDAI had also said that it respects free speech, including the freedom of the press, and its police complaint should not be viewed as “shooting the messenger”.

PTI

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