New Delhi, Dec 21 (PTI) The Congress Friday accused the Modi government of violating the citizens’ right to privacy by indulging in “data snooping, stealing” and “scaring” people, demanding immediate withdrawal of its notification that authorises 10 central agencies to intercept information from any computer.

In an order on Thursday, the Union Home Ministry authorised the 10 central agencies to intercept, monitor, and decrypt “any information generated, transmitted, received or stored in any computer”.

“The Congress demands that the Home Ministry order dated December 20, 2018, must be withdrawn with immediate effect as it violates the citizens’ right to privacy, violates the Information Technology Act, violates the nine bench decision of the Supreme Court in the right to privacy matter and the Aadhaar judgment,” Congress leader Jaiveer Shergill said.

The Centre, however, said the rules for intercepting and monitoring computer data were framed in 2009 when the Congress-led UPA was in power and its new order only notified the designated authority which can carry out such action.

Asked whether the Congress will take this issue in court, Shergill said the party will take the matter “first in the peoples’ court, and if it is not withdrawn then all legal options are open”.

The Congress leader said anticipating defeat in the 2019 Lok Sabha elections, the Modi government has given sweeping powers to “snoop not in public interest, but in Mr Modi’s interest”.

“Data snooping, stealing and scaring citizen is DNA of insecure Modi government,” he said, adding that the BJP “stands for Bhrasht Jasoos Party”.

“The truth is the BJP wants to transform India into a police state and transform democracy into ‘Modi-cracy’,” he said.

“Despite the Supreme Court judgment affirming the right to privacy, on what authority of law and basis, the Home Ministry has issued such cryptic, illegal cryptic illegal and invasive order?” he asked.

“The Modi government must explain which ‘public interest’ is served by snooping on every secure computer in each and every household,” Shergill asked.

He said in the past 4.5 years, the nation has witnessed how the Modi government “does not believe in the Constitution of India, in the citizens’ right to privacy, in upholding and enforcing the judgments of the Supreme Court of India, in serving people by consensus, but rather it is addicted to data snooping, data stealing and scaring the citizens.” Shergill also said that the order is violative of the Information Technology Act, the nine judge bench Supreme Court judgment on the right to privacy, the Aadhaar judgment and is against all tenants of law.

“In 2014, the prime minister came to power with the slogan ‘Ghar Ghar Modi’ and now clearly seen his exit from power he is resorting to ‘Ghar Ghar Jasoosi’ by issuing cryptic illegal orders with the sole objective of curbing right to privacy, freedom of speech and expression and govt criticism,” he said.

Shergill said disappointed by the recent defeat in Chhattisgarh, Madhya Pradesh and Rajasthan assembly polls, the Modi government has issued an “illegal, unconstitutional, arbitrary order” authorising various intelligence agencies to “intercept any computer of any citizen any system without any ground or justification whatsoever”.

“This order can easily be labelled as ‘Tuglaqi Farman’ of a defeated tyrannical government,” he said, adding that the Modi government has a “chequered and a notorious track record” for devising ways to infringe upon the right to privacy of citizens.

The opposition parties led by the Congress slammed the order as unconstitutional, undemocratic and an assault on fundamental rights and an attempt by the BJP government to convert India into a “surveillance state” by resorting to “snooping”, inviting a sharp response from the ruling party.

This is published unedited from the PTI feed.