Aad­haar leak case: Com­mit­ted to free­dom of press, says govt

SC says politi­cians should al­low free­dom of ex­pres­sion

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UIDAI also said it would ap­proach the news­pa­per and its re­porter for co­op­er­a­tion in the in­ves­ti­ga­tion of the al­leged data breach

Govt ex­tends dead­line for Aaad­har link­age to small sav­ings schemes

NEW DELHI: Amid out­rage on the FIR lodged over the re­port­ing of al­leged Aad­haar data breach, the govern­ment on Fri­day said it had been filed against "un­known" ac­cused while as­sert­ing its com­mit­ment to the free­dom of the press.

The Supreme Court which is hear­ing a pe­ti­tion chal­leng­ing the va­lid­ity of Aad­haar, mean­while, made it clear that politi­cians should "al­low free­dom of ex­pres­sion" dur­ing the hear­ing on an­other case.

A day af­ter the Delhi Po­lice con­firmed reg­is­ter­ing of an FIR on Jan­uary 5, based on a com­plaint 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 the 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.

The UIDAI also said on Mon­day that it is com­mit­ted to the free­dom of the press and will ap­proach the news­pa­per and its re­porter for co­op­er­a­tion in the in­ves­ti­ga­tion of the al­leged data breach.

"We're go­ing to write to @thetri­bunechd and @rach­nakhaira to give all as­sis­tance to in­ves­ti­gate to nab the real cul­prits. We also ap­pre­ci­ate if Tri­bune and its jour­nal­ist have any con­struc­tive sug­ges­tion to of­fer," the UIDAI said in a tweet.

The FIR had at­tracted sharp crit­i­cism from var­i­ous me­dia or­gan­i­sa­tions and bod­ies, in­clud­ing The Ed­i­tors Guild of In­dia which sought with­drawal of the case.

In a re­lated de­vel­op­ment, Govern­ment has ex­tended the dead­line for link­ing of bio­met­ric iden­ti­fi­ca­tion Aad­haar to small sav­ings schemes like post of­fice de­posits, Kisan Vikas Pa­tra by three months to March 31, 2018.

BJP MP Sha­trughan Sinha on Mon­day won­dered if the peo­ple of the coun­try were liv­ing in a "ba­nana re­pub­lic", say­ing a jour­nal­ist who did a story to high­light the mis­use of Aad­haar de­tails was be­ing hauled up for re­port­ing an "al­leged truth".

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