New Delhi: Facing opposition’s ire over the Home Ministry’s order to authorise 10 central agencies to intercept “any information” on computers, the Centre on Friday defended the move asserting that it was done for national security.
Slamming the Congress and its chief Rahul Gandhi for describing the order as unconstitutional, undemocratic and an assault on fundamental rights, Prasad said, “Of late, we are seeing Congress deeply worried over a notification issued today. Congress, including their president, speak without doing their homework.”
“This has been done in national security interest. It has been done under the law made by the Manmohan Singh government in 2009. Each case of interception and the decision is to be approved Union Home Secretary,” he added.
Citing the threat of radicalisation to the country from Islamic State and Pakistan’s ISI through the internet, Prasad said that the government respects people’s privacy and democracy but will not compromise on national security.
“Wasn’t it a Congress government which imposed emergency? We reject these accusations with all contempt. This is a robust mechanism, fully accountable, in the interest of India’s national security,” the Law Minister said.
Meanwhile, the Ministry of Home Affairs also issued a clarification on the order, saying that no new powers have been conferred to the security and law enforcement agencies. It added that each case of interception, monitoring, decryption will have to be approved by the Union Home Secretary.
The government’s move to authorise 10 Central agencies to intercept any information on computers also rocked the Rajya Sabha, with Union Minister Arun Jaitley saying the opposition was creating a mountain out of a mole hill as the authorisation was given under old rules.
Congress leader Anand Sharma raised the issue of the MHA authorising 10 central agencies to intercept any information on computers.
Replying to him, Jaitley said it would have been better if the Opposition had obtained all information before raising this issue.
“The Opposition is making a mountain out of a mole hill where even a mole hill does not exist,” he said.
“When senior members from Opposition raise an issue every word spoken by them has precious value and therefore they must know facts,” Jaitley told the House amid the din.
He said the rules under which agencies have been authorised to intercept were framed in 2009 when the Congress led UPA was in power.
The authorisation has been issued under the same rules. Since the Act has been in place these orders of authorisation are repeated from time to time, he said.
The order authorises 10 Central agencies such as the Intelligence Bureau, Central Bureau of Investigation and the Enforcement Directorate to intercept, monitor, and decrypt any information generated, transmitted, received or stored in any computer.
Opposition parties led by the Congress joined hands on Friday to oppose the government’s move to authorise 10 Central agencies to intercept “any information” on computers, describing it as unconstitutional, undemocratic and an assault on fundamental rights.
The parties, including the CPI(M), the Samajwadi Party, the Rashtriya Janata Dal and the Trinamool Congress, said they will collectively oppose the Union Home Ministry’s order issued late night on Thursday.