New Delhi: The Supreme Court on Tuesday deferred the hearing of PILs seeking quashing of December 20 order of MHA that allowed ten central agencies to monitor and decrypt information stored on any computer for national security. (Also read: Sena Slams PM Modi Over Snooping Row)

A bench headed by Chief Justice Ranjan Gogoi said it would hear the case on a later date.

The Centre has defended its notification, saying the decision does not infringe upon the Right to Privacy and was done in state interest. In an affidavit, it said that there were 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 the 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 last year, the Centre had authorised select security and intelligence agencies for interception, monitoring and decryption of any information generated, transmitted, received or stored in any computer resource.

The Government had defended its decision. Union minister Kiren Rijiju said no agency can snoop on citizens and that a misinformation campaign was being run to hurt the country’s image and security.

He said the latest Home Ministry notification was aimed at enabling internet service providers to help in serious cases of uploading of child pornography and jehadi contents. He said the ministry has just put the rules framed by the UPA dispensation in 2009 in public domain.

“No agency can snoop on citizens. Rules framed by UPA Govt in 2009 have been put by MHA in public domain to prevent misuse by unauthorised persons, agencies or service providers,” Rijiju tweeted.

Then Union Minister of State for Home said a “misinformation campaign is being spread to hurt the image of India and its security”.

The agencies empowered by the Government included 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.