SC issues notice in challenge to govt approval to surveillance by agencies

SC issues notice in challenge to govt approval to surveillance by agencies

Shruti Mahajan

The Supreme Court today issued notice in the PIL challenging the Central government’s notification allowing central agencies to carry out surveillance of information stored on computers.

The Bench of Chief Justice of India Ranjan Gogoi with Justices Ashok Bhushan and Sanjay Kishan Kaul refused to impair an interim stay on the implementation of the notification.

The Court today issued notice in the case and will hear the matter next after six weeks.

In December, the Union Ministry of Home Affairs had issued an order authorising 10 “Security and Intelligence Agencies” to intercept, monitor, and decrypt “any information generated, transmitted, received or stored in any computer”.

The order was issued under Section 69(1) of the IT Act to the following agencies:  the Intelligence Bureau, Narcotics Control Bureau, Enforcement Directorate, Central Board of Direct Taxes, Directorate of Revenue Intelligence, Central Bureau of Investigation; National Investigation Agency, Cabinet Secretariat (R&AW), Directorate of Signal Intelligence (For service areas of Jammu & Kashmir, North-East and Assam only) and Commissioner of Police, Delhi.

This order was challenged by Advocate ML Sharma as being illegal, unconstitutional, and contrary to public interest.

One of the grounds of the challenge is the apprehension that citizens may be penalized for expressing views opposing those of the government’s.

“Because impugned order has been issued to find political opponent, thinker and speaker to control entire country under dictatorship to win coming general election under an undisclosed emergency as well as slavery which cannot be permitted within the constitution of India (sic).”

The petition also apprehends a serious danger and injury to the freedom, life and liberty of the citizens of India.

Further, it was contended that the order must be tested on the touchstone of the Right to Privacy, which was recognized by the Supreme Court as a fundamental right.

Thus, it was prayed that the impugned order be quashed, and that the Centre be prohibited from initiating any criminal proceedings or investigation under Sections 66 and 67 of the Information Technology Act, as per the terms of the order.

Read the order below. 

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