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BJP Govt’s illegal strike on Press, Public Freedom, Unconstitutional MHA Order to spy on any computer challenged in Supreme Court
TIWN Dec 24, 2018
BJP Govt’s illegal strike on Press, Public Freedom, Unconstitutional MHA Order to spy on any computer challenged in Supreme Court
PHOTO : Supreme Court of India.

AGARTALA, Dec 24 (TIWN): Finally the illegal order from MHA ahead of Lok Sabha Election which erupted massive controversy across country’s politics was challenged in the Supreme Court. Now Govt has to answer cause behind surveillance on each citizen’s lives and treating all Indians as “criminals”. Challenging the constitutionality and legality of the Centres order empowering central agencies and the Delhi Police to snoop on all computers, a public interest litigation (PIL) was filed before the Supreme Court on Monday seeking quashing of the December 20 order. The order by the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) authorised 10 central agencies, including the Intelligence Bureau (IB), the Enforcement Directorate (ED), the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) as well as the Delhi Police to "intercept, monitor and decrypt any information generated, transmitted, received or stored in any computer".Filed by advocate M.L. Sharma, the PIL, contending that the MHA order was "illegal, unconstitutional and ultra-vires to the law" said it should be quashed in the interest of justice.

"The blanket surveillance order must be tested against fundamental right to privacy," the petition said. 

It also asked the court to prohibit the agencies from initiating any criminal proceedings or investigation against anybody under the provisions of the Information Technology Act based on the notification.  

CPI-M National General Secretary Sitaram Yechury after the MHA order raised question, why under Modi Govt every citizen is treated as a criminal ? The questions get ground as BJP has marked as a Govt for misusing the power of being ruling. Congress has said the order as “ultimate assault on fundamental rights and the right to privacy”.

Temring the order as “unconstitutional” politburo has given this statement. “The Ministry of Home Affairs has issued an order authorizing ten Central agencies to intercept, monitor and decrypt “any information generated, transmitted, received or stored in any computer”. This is a brazen attack on the fundamental right to privacy given to every citizen by our Constitution. This order goes against the spirit of Supreme Court judgements on telephone tapping guidelines, the right to privacy judgement and the Aadhar judgement.The track record of this government in harassing and persecuting citizens who do not share the RSS/BJP viewpoint is there for everyone to see. Individuals have been picked up for social media posts which are seen as being inimical to their image”.

The government has authorised 10 central agencies to intercept, monitor and decrypt all the data contained in any computer system. The order was passed late night Thursday by the “cyber and information security” division of the union home ministry under the authority of home secretary Rajiv Gauba.

According to the order, 10 central probe and snoop agencies are now empowered under the Information Technology Act, 2000, for computer interception and analysis, officials said. The 10 agencies are the Intelligence Bureau, Narcotics Control Bureau, Enforcement Directorate, the Central Board of Direct Taxes, Directorate of Revenue Intelligence, Central Bureau of Investigation, National Investigation Agency, the Research and Analysis Wing, Directorate of Signal Intelligence (in service areas of Jammu and Kashmir, North East and Assam) and Delhi Police.

The agencies have been authorised “for the purpose of interception, monitoring and decryption of any information generated, transmitted, received or stored in any computer resource under the said Act (section 69 of the IT Act, 2000)”, the order states.

Section 69 of the IT Act deals with the “power to issue directions for interception or monitoring or decryption of any information through any computer resource”. According to an earlier order, the Union home secretary is also empowered to authorise or sanction the intelligence and security agencies for undertaking tapping and analysis of phone calls under the provisions of the Indian Telegraph Act.

The opposition led by the Congress opposed the government’s move, calling it unconstitutional, undemocratic and an assault on fundamental rights. The BJP government, opposition leaders said, was converting the country into a surveillance state.

“From Modi Sarkar to stalker sarkar, clearly the string of losses has left the BJP government desperate for information,” the Congress said on its official Twitter handle.

“It is the ultimate assault on fundamental rights and the right to privacy. It is also in direct conflict with the Supreme Court judgement that right to privacy is a fundamental right. The government has done it by strength we collectively oppose it,” Congress leader Anand Sharma said. The order gives ultimate powers to state agencies for surveillance, which is unacceptable, he added.

“If anybody is going to monitor the computer, including your computer, that is the Orwellian state. George Orwell is around the corner. It is condemnable,” said Congress leader P. Chidambaram.

According to Congress spokesperson Randeep Surjewala, the government was brazenly flouting India’s privacy laws. “Modi govt mocks and flouts Fundamental ‘Right to Privacy’ with brazen impunity! Having lost elections, now Modi govt wants to scan/snoop YOUR computers? ‘Big Brother Syndrome’ is truly embedded in NDA’s DNA!” he said.

“Blanket surveillance is bad in law,” West Bengal chief minister Mamata Banerjee said on Twitter.

“If it is for national security, then only for that purpose central government already has the machinery. But, why all commoners will be affected? Public opinion please...,” she tweeted.

Delhi chief minister and AAP convener Arvind Kejriwal also tweeted his opposition to the MHA order and said India has come under undeclared emergency.

“India has been under undeclared emergency since May 2014, now in its last couple of months Modi govt is crossing all limits by seeking control of even the citizens computers. Can such curtailment of fundamental rights be tolerated in world’s largest democracy?” he asked.

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