Aadhaar leak: Authorities have 'misconceived' honest journalistic enterprise, says newspaper

The FIR also mentioned people, whom the reporter contacted for her report. Photograph:( PTI )

PTI Delhi, India Jan 08, 2018, 01.42 AM (IST)

In the wake of the UIDAI filing a case over a report in The Tribune on the breach of details of more than one billion Aadhaar cards, the newspaper today said authorities have "misconceived" an honest journalistic enterprise.

The Tribune's Editor-in-Chief Harish Khare in a statement also said that the newspaper's stories are in the best traditions of responsible journalism.

"We regret very much that the authorities have misconceived an honest journalistic enterprise and have proceeded to institute criminal proceedings against the whistleblower," he said.

He said that The Tribune shall explore all legal options "open to us to defend our freedom to undertake serious investigative journalism."

Unique Identification Authority of India (UIDAI) Deputy Director B M Patnaik told the police that an input was received from The Tribune that it purchased a service being offered by anonymous sellers over WhatsApp that provided unrestricted access to details of any of the Aadhaar numbers created in India.

On January 5, a complaint was received from Patnaik and the FIR was registered the same day.

Khare said, "Our stories are in the best traditions of responsible journalism. Our story was in response to a very genuine concern among the citizens on a matter of great public interest."

"My colleagues and I are grateful for expressions of support and solidarity from media organisations and journalists. We at The Tribune believe that our stories were in the nature of a legitimate journalistic exercise," he said.

The Chandigarh Press Club (CPC) condemned the action of the UIDAI for lodging a case against The Tribune reporter over a story on Aadhaar data breach.

"Instead of taking action against people, who were involved in the data breach, the government agency preferred to lodge a case against the reporter, who exposed the loopholes in the system.

"In an act of 'shoot the messenger', the UIDAI had filed a case against the reporter of The Tribune for an article on how anonymous users accessed Aadhaar details and sold it for a fee," CPC, secretary general, Barinder Singh Rawat said in a statement.

The CPC will also hold a protest tomorrow in the club premises, he said.