The Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology said no case has been registered against reporter Rachna Khaira or The Tribune newspaper in relation to the January 3 story on how Aadhaar details were available for sale at Rs 500.
The report had claimed that ‘agents’ were providing Aadhaar verification solutions for as little as Rs 500. Using the software supplied by the criminals, reporter Rachna Khaira was able to enter any Aadhaar number and get the holder’s name, address, phone number and other personal details, except biometric data.
It later turned out that the secret vendor was using a login provided to a district administration official in Gujarat for dealing with the Aadhaar-related complaints of citizens.
Two days after the report, a first information report or FIR was filed by the Cyber Cell of Delhi Police’s Crime Branch under various sections, including impersonation, forgery and cheating.
The FIR caused a massive outcry after it was reported that it was filed against Rachna Khaira and The Tribune, along with the actual criminals involved in the racket.
The Editor’s Guild, one of India’s most powerful organizations representing journalists, issued a statement on Jan 7 that it was “deeply concerned over reports that the Deputy Director of the Unique Identification Authority of India (UIDAI) had registered an FIR against Rachna Khaira, a reporter of The Tribune, in the Crime Branch of the Delhi Police” under the above-mentioned sections.
However, on Friday, the Department of Electronics and Information Technology, which is the nodal ministry in charge of the UID Authority of India, denied such accusations, and said the FIR was not filed against the journalist and the newspaper at all.
“UIDAI’s complaint is detailed and self contained,” the IT ministry said in its statement. “The details of known/ suspect/ unknown accused detailed at serial no 7 (S.no.7) of page 1 of the FIR states as ‘unknown’,” it said.
It is likely that the FIR was actually filed against unknown persons, and Khaira and the Tribune were mentioned in description of the events leading to the complaint. This may have been misreported as the FIR being filed against Khaira.