There should be guidelines in place to govern the search and seizure of phones or other digital devices belonging to individuals, particularly journalists or media personnel, the Supreme Court said on Tuesday [Foundation for Media Professionals vs Union of India and ors]. .A bench of Justices Sanjay Kishan Kaul and Sudhanshu Dhulia pointed out that media professionals could have confidential information or details about their sources on their devices. ."See these are media professionals, they will have on their phones sources, contacts. So there must be some guidelines. This is serious," Justice Kaul orally observed.Justice Dhulia weighed in by pointing out, "they are supposed to give you the hash value (of the seized device).".Appearing for the Central government, Additional Solicitor General SV Raju replied that the authorities cannot be shut out from examining such devices."But there are anti-nationals who may ... We cannot be shut out completely. Media cannot be above the law," he said. .The Court, however, maintained that it would be dangerous if the government is given overarching powers on such issues in the absence of any guidelines. The Court proceeded to give the Central government a month's time to suggest what guidelines could be put in place to govern such seizures of digital devices. The Court added that the matter cannot be treated as an adversarial one, and that the government has to play a role in shaping the necessary guidelines..The bench was hearing a public interest litigation (PIL) petition filed by the Foundation for Media Professionals seeking guidelines to be put in place for the search and seizure of digital devices by law enforcement agencies. .The Supreme Court is also seized of another similar petition filed by a group of five academicians and researchers.."Loss of research work:"Academics move Supreme Court for guidelines to govern investigating agencies while seizing personal digital devices.In that petition, it has been contended that unbridled powers are now being exercised by investigating agencies when it comes to seizing digital devices that contain "much, if not all, of a citizen’s personal and professional life."The petitioners added that such seizures must be done in a civilised by way, guided by the directives of the Supreme Court. The plea also added that several persons from whom such devices have been seized in the recent past were from the academic field or were authors of repute..In August 2022, the Supreme Court had asked the Central government to file a fresh reply to their plea, after finding that its counter-affidavit was incomplete and not satisfactory. In November of that year, the Court had also imposed costs of ₹25,000 on the Central government for not filing the said reply.