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Oj Corner
Special column
by OJ George

Cheque facility won't be withdrawn, says the govt
It is a matter of relief that the Union Government has clarified that cheque facility won't be withdrawn.

There were stray reports that an overenthusiastic government favaouring total digitalisation may go in for banning the cheque books.

It is gratifying to note that the government won't proceed with the reforms this way.
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Ire against FIR for Aadhaar data leak report
The Congress on Sunday attacked the Centre after the UIDAI filed an FIR with Delhi Police over a newspaper report on the breach of details of more than one billion Aadhaar cards, accusing Prime Minister Narendra Modi of being "evasive" and shooting the messenger, instead of probing the leak.

Congress chief spokesperson Randeep Singh Surjewala said: "every Indian must condemn this mindless act" of the government.

Unique Identification Authority of India (UIDAI) deputy director B M Patnaik has informed the police that an input was received from The Tribune newspaper that it had purchased a service being offered by anonymous sellers on WhatsApp that provided unrestricted access to any of the more than one billion Aadhaar numbers.

The FIR mentions the names of the journalist and the people the reporter reached out to purchase the Aadhaar data, but they have not been shown as accused, the police said.

The Congress also raised questions on the Modi government's "intentions" on privacy issues as it referred to former attorney general Mukul Rohatgi reportedly saying last year that "no citizen can have an absolute right over his/her body". It charged the government with being "dismissive and oppressive" instead of being "responsive" to the issues flagged.

"Intent, & 'Intentions' of Modi Govt on Privacy were thoroughly exposed when it had proclaimed that 'no citizen can have an absolute right over his/her body'," Congress' chief spokesperson Randeep Singh Surjewala said in another tweet.

"In SC, Modi Govt had accepted Aadhaar data leak! Now instead of investigating, an evasive Modi ji shoots the messenger!" he said.

'Dictatorial mindset'

Addressing a press conference here, party spokesperson Shobha Oza said the UIDAI filing the FIR in connection with the report showed the government's "dictatorial mindset".

She said "from time to time" there have been reports about Aadhaar data leakage and referred to a study by the Bengaluru-based organisation - Centre for Internet and Society - which in May last year claimed that information about 130 million card holders had been leaked from four government websites.

She said that personal information of India's citizens were exposed to hackers every day and the right to privacy was being "mocked and flouted with impunity".

"But the Modi government remains immune... the government itself has accepted that there is a leakage. But still the government is being adamant, which is a matter of concern," Shobha said.

UIDAI reacts

Under fire for filing the FIR, the UIDAI said it respects free speech, including freedom of the press, and its police complaint should not be viewed as "shooting the messenger".

In a statement, it said that its act should not be viewed as one targeting the media or a whistleblower.
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