Snooping order: SC issues notice to government; seeks response in six weeks

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Snooping order: SC issues notice to government; seeks response in six weeks

New Delhi: After the government authorised 10 agencies to intercept, monitor and decrypt any computer system in the country, the Supreme Court on Monday issued a notice to the Centre on a plea against a government’s order seeking the Centre’s response within six weeks.

Advocate Manohar Lal Sharma in a plea had sought the quashing of the government’s December 20 notification.

According to the notification, 10 central probe agencies are now empowered under the Information Technology (IT) Act for computer interception and analysis. The 10 agencies notified under the new order are the Intelligence Bureau, Narcotics Control Bureau, Enforcement Directorate, the Central Board of Direct Taxes (for Income Tax Department), Directorate of Revenue Intelligence, Central Bureau of Investigation, National Investigation Agency, the Research and Analysis Wing, Directorate of Signal Intelligence (in service areas of J-K, North East and Assam) and Delhi Police commissioner.

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Sharma in his plea termed the notification as ‘illegal, unconstitutional and ultra vires to the law’.

He further claimed that the notification was issued ‘to find a 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’.

It alleged that the Ministry of Home Affairs’ “blanket surveillance order must be tested against the fundamental right to privacy”.

As per the notification, the state has the right to access every communication, computer and mobile and “to use it to protect political interest and object of the present executive political party”, the petition alleged.

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