The Indian Journalists' Union (IJU) strongly condemned the registration of an FIR against the Chandigarh-based newspaper The Tribune and its reporter Rachna Khaira by the Unique Identification Authority of India (UIDAI) for exposing the breach of Aadhaar data.
In a statement issued on Monday, IJU President S N Sinha, Secretary-General Amar Devulapalli and Secretary Balwinder Jammu said that it was strange that the UIDAI, instead of fixing the loopholes in its system, was targeting the newspaper and the reporter who had exposed the corruption and criminal breach of trust by the authority's staff who were guilty of selling sensitive information to make money.
The outrage sparked off on Sunday when a deputy director of the UIDAI had an FIR registered against The Tribune and Khaira following her report on how anonymous sellers over WhatsApp were providing access to citizens' Aadhaar numbers for a fee.
The statement by the IJU claimed that the FIR against the newspaper, the reporter and her sources was an effort to cover up the corruption and inefficiency inherent in the UIDAI, and was tantamount to shooting the messenger. It said that such FIRs were a direct attack on the freedom of press guaranteed under Article 19(a) of the Indian Constitution.
Calling on the Union Government to intervene, the IJU asked it to take immediate steps to restore the people's faith in the UIDAI and protect their private data. It also urged the Press Council of India (PCI) to take suo motu cognizance of the case against the reporter and take corrective measures.