Will explore all legal options, says Tribune editor on Aadhaar FIR

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New Delhi, Jan 7  ‘The Tribune will explore all legal options to defend its freedom to undertake “serious investigative journalism”, the dailys Editor-in-Chief Harish Khare said on Sunday.

In a note on the newspaper’s website, the Editor expressed gratitude for the moral support he and his colleagues got from the media fraternity and added that criminal proceedings were instituted against “an honest journalistic enterprise”.

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“We at The Tribune believe that our stories were in the nature of a legitimate journalistic exercise. Our story was in response to a very genuine concern among the citizens on a matter of great public interest,” Khare said in the note.

“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.

After a January 3 news report by The Tribune newspaper over breach in Aadhaar data with a headline “Rs 500, 10 minutes, and you have access to billion Aadhaar details”, the Unique Identification Authority of India (UIDAI) has registered an FIR against the newspaper and reporter Rachna Khaira.

The FIR, lodged with the Cyber Cell of the Crime Branch invokes serious charges under the Indian Penal Code (IPC), IT Act and Aadhaar Act.

The UIDAI on January 4 said its search facility for grievance redressal may have been “misused” but denied any breach or leak of Aadhaar data.

The UIDAI move has attracted widespread criticism from press bodies, Editors’ Guild and journalists from across the country who have demanded a withdrawal of cases against the newspaper and its reporter.