New Delhi: Another Public Interest Litigation (PIL) was filed in the Supreme Court on Monday, seeking quashing of the December 20 order of the Ministry of Home Affairs allowing ten Central agencies to monitor any computer resource, reported ANI. The PIL has been filed by advocate Amit Sahni. (Also read: Govt Defends Order, Says Did it For National Security)
Earlier in the day, the Supreme Court denied early hearing in a similar PIL, saying “there is no urgency in the case”, reported ANI. The PIL was filed in the apex court challenging the government’s notification authorising ten Central agencies to intercept, monitor and decrypt any computer system.
The PIL filed by advocate Manohar Lal Sharma sought quashing of the Government’s notification. The ten 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.
The Government came under fire for its move, with the Opposition accusing the Centre of running a “police state”. The Centre has clarified that the same rules were brought in by the UPA government in 2009.
The development comes at a time when the government has proposed draft amendments to rules governing online content. The proposed amendments to rules under Section 79 of the Information Technology (IT) Act make it mandatory for online platforms to “proactively” deploy technology to weed out “unlawful” content. They also require end-to-end encryption to be broken so that the origin of messages can be traced.
Citing the threat of radicalisation to the country from Islamic State and Pakistan’s ISI through the internet, Union Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad said that the government respects people’s privacy and democracy but will not compromise on national security.
Meanwhile, Congress leader Anand Sharma said the order was against the right to privacy, which was a fundamental right. “The government has done it by stealth and we collectively oppose it. This gives unlimited powers to all these agencies to monitor every information that interests them and complete surveillance which is unacceptable in a democracy,” he said.