The FIR has been lodged on the complaint of a senior UIDAI official under Sections 36 and 37 of the Aadhaar Act, apart from Indian Penal Code sections on cheating, forgery and impersonation, and Section 66 of the Information Technology Act.
On January 3, a report in The Tribune newspaper had claimed that an agent running the racket created a gateway and provided a user ID and password through which the reporter could enter any Aadhaar number and get its details+ for just Rs 500.
The police denied they were targeting the newspaper or reporter. “We have not named anyone as an accused yet,” a police spokesperson said. The first page of the FIR, accessed by TOI, says “unknown” under the column ‘accused’.
In a statement issued on Sunday, Delhi Police said, “On 5.1.18, UIDAI lodged a complaint in the cyber cell that an input had been received through the newspaper Tribune regarding violation of the Grievance Redressal System of UIDAI. Accordingly, the complaint given by UIDAI has been converted into an FIR which is “open ended”… The complaint given by UIDAI has only mentioned the name of the reporter who was purportedly given access. Investigation has been initiated with the present focus on tracing and booking the person who has shared the password.”
Tribune editor-in-chief Harish Khare said on Sunday night, “We regret very much that the authorities have misconceived an honest journalistic enterprise and have proceeded to institute criminal proceedings against the whistleblower. We shall explore all legal options open to us to defend our freedom to undertake serious investigative journalism,” he added.
In a statement, UIDAI said it was “duty bound to disclose all details of the case and name everyone who is an active participant in the chain of the events leading to commission of the crime… so that police can conduct proper investigation and bring the real culprit to justice”.
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However, in the statement, UIDAI did say that it had filed a complaint on January 4 with full details of everyone involved in the incident on which an FIR no. 9/a8 of PS crime branch dated 5/1/2018 has been registered in the cyber cell of Delhi Police against Anil Kumar, Sunil Kumar, Raj, the reporter Rachna Khaira, the Tribune and other unknown persons.
Arrest the FM and PM for giving such stupid suggestions without having the proper infrastructure. The flaw is in the idea and implementation which has become the trademark of this Govt.
UIDAI had earlier asked the Tribune to inform if its correspondent was able to view or obtain the fingerprints and iris scan of any person through the access to UIDAI portal and how many “Aadhaar numbers did the correspondent actually enter through the said login user id and password and whom did those Aadhaar numbers belong to”. The letter asked for these details to be sent by January 6, failing which UIDAI said it would presume that there was no access to any fingerprints or iris scan.
Reacting to the registration of the FIR, the reporter, Rachna Khaira said it was a case of shooting the messenger. “I did the story to expose the loophole and it is clear that it was done with bonafide intention. It is after our story that UIDAI found that there was a loophole which could be exploited by unscrupulous elements, but now the authority is shooting the messenger,” she said.