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INS and Editors Guild express concerns about Tribune FIR

10 January 2018

The Indian Newspaper Society (INS) has expressed “serious concerns” about the Unique Identification Authority of India’s move to file an FIR against Tribune reporter Rachna Khaira for her story claiming that unknown agents had provided her access to Aadhaar’s database for Rs 500.

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In a statement issued by Akila Urankar, the president of INS, she said, "on behalf of the entire community of INS members, (the INS) expresses serious concerns about an attempt to browbeat the reporter of Tribune who has courageously reported leak of crucial Aadhaar data".

Rachna Khaira, along with others, has been booked under IPC sections 419 (punishment for cheating under impersonation), 420 (cheating), 468 (forgery), 471 (using a forged document) and under sections of the IT Act and the Aadhaar Act.

Urankar said The Tribune’s report is "eminently in the public interest". She said the UIDAI’s action "is a brazen attack on the freedom of press and displays lack of respect for ethical media practices". INS, the statement said, "demands that the FIR lodged by UIDAI be withdrawn forthwith".

Meanwhile, UIDAI’s move was condemned by the Editors Guild of India. The Guild said it is "deeply concerned over reports" of the FIR in the Crime Branch of Delhi Police.

Editors Guild of India 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". Calling UIDAI’s action unfair and unjustified, it called the FIR "a direct attack on the freedom of the press".

In a strongly worded statement, the Guild stated that "instead of penalising the reporter, UIDAI should have ordered a thorough internal investigation into the alleged breach and made its findings public". It demanded the intervention of the ministry to ensure the cases against the reporter withdrawn, "apart from conducting an impartial investigation into the matter".

The Press Club of India, Indian Women’s Press Corps and Press Association have expressed "strong objection and condemnation" about the UIDAI’s action.

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