SC to hear after four weeks pleas against MHA surveillance notification

The Supreme Court on Friday posted after four weeks the hearing of a batch of petitions seeking quashing of the December 20 notification of the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) allowing 10 central agencies to monitor and decrypt information stored on any computer for national security.

A bench headed by Chief Justice Ranjan Gogoi also asked the parties in the case to complete the pleadings by that time.

It was hearing petitions against the MHA surveillance notification.

A PIL filed by advocate Amit Sahni has sought a direction to the government to make public the safeguards to be adopted so as to ensure that the Right to Privacy of citizens is not affected as such, as per the mandate of this court.

Last week, the Centre defended before the apex court its notification, saying the decision does not infringe upon the Right to Privacy and was done with legitimate state interest.

In an affidavit, it said that there are enough safeguards under the Information Technology Act and Rules to ward off unwarranted invasion into the privacy of people.

It said, “There is no blanket permission to any agency for interception or monitoring or decryption as the authorised agencies still require permission of the competent authority in each case as per the due process of law and justification for the interception.”

The pleas had contended that the MHA order was ‘illegal’ and ‘unconstitutional’.

On December 20, 2018, the Centre authorised select security and intelligence agencies for purposes of interception, monitoring and decryption of any information generated, transmitted, received or stored in any computer resource.

The agencies empowered by the government in accordance with the Information Technology Act, 2000 include 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 (RAW) and the Commissioner of Police, Delhi.

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