SC to hear PILs against govt ‘snooping’ order UP encounters a serious issue, needs detailed hearing, says SC
Notification A Violation Of Right To Privacy, Say Petitioners Apex court defers hearing on PIL against citizenship bill
New Delhi: The Supreme Court on Monday entertained PILs challenging the Centre’s December 20 notification authorising 10 agencies, including the CBI, Enforcement Directorate, IB and NIA, to intercept, monitor and decrypt any information generated, transmitted, received or stored in any computer resource.
The petitioners — Amit Sahni, Mahua Moitra, Shreya Singhal and M L Sharma — alleged that the notification, issued under Section 69 of the Information Technology Act, was a tool for the government to snoop on the privacy of citizens and hence violated the right to privacy, which has been declared by the SC as part of right to life.
A bench of Chief Justice Ranjan Gogoi and Justices Ashok Bhushan and Sanjay K Kaul sought the Centre’s response to the PILs. However, when the petitioners sought a stay on the December 20 notification, the bench said it would consider passing interim orders after perusing the Centre’s response affidavit.
The Centre had rubbished the charge of ‘snooping’ through the notification and said the power to nominate agencies existed under Section 69 of the IT Act, a provision introduced by the UPA government on December 22, 2008. The NDA government had said the power to ‘intercept, monitor and decrypt’ information from computer resources had been extensively used by the UPA government. Without this provision, while terrorists would be free to use information technology, the intelligence and investigating agencies would be handicapped, it had said in its defence.
Petitioner Sahni in his PIL said Section 69 of the IT Act was amended in 2008 empowering the Centre and state governments to issue such directions “in the interest of sovereignty and integrity of India, defence of India, security of state, friendly relations with foreign states, or preventing incitement to commission of any cognisable offence relating to the above or for investigation of any offence”.
Sahni said no such reasons were given before issuance of the December 20 notification, “meaning thereby that anyone’s computer could be put under surveillance”. New Delhi: The Supreme Court on Monday said encounter killings of alleged criminals in Uttar Pradesh was a “serious issue” requiring detailed hearing even though the Yogi Adityanath government claimed it had followed the procedure laid down by the apex court while probing each case of death.
A bench of CJI Ranjan Gogoi and Justices Ashok Bhushan and S K Kaul told petitioner PUCL’s counsel Sanjay Parikh and UP government’s counsel Mukul Rohatgi that it had decided on a detailed hearing after going through the PIL and the response filed by the state government. The bench posted the matter for further hearing on February 12.
PUCL had brought to the court’s notice “incidents of massive administrative liquidations taking place in UP in blatant violation of rule of law, legal and constitutional protection available to citizens, including right to life.”
The petition said, “Facts reveal that over 1,100 encounters have taken place in the past year, wherein 49 persons were killed and 370 injured. According to the figures given by UP to the NHRC, in these encounters, 45 persons died between January 1, 2017 and March 31, 2018.”
In its affidavit, the UP government had told the SC that 30 of 48 suspected criminals killed in the last one year belonged to majority community and accused the petitioners of trying to give communal colour to the encounters.
“Investigations in 28 cases have been completed and final reports filed in 19 cases have been accepted by courts. Further, magisterial inquiry has been completed in 33 cases and police action has been found lawful,” the state said. “An attempt is being made to present dreadful criminals as victims by publishing versions of persons having sympathy with the deceased accused persons and preparing unverified news reports based on such baseless and fabricated facts and posts on the internet,”it added. New Delhi: The Supreme Court on Monday deferred hearing on a PIL challenging two notifications issued three years ago, which were the precursor to the Citizenship (Amendment) Bill and were meant to stop expulsion of foreigners who professed Hinduism, Sikhism, Jainism and Buddhism.
A bench headed by CJI Ranjan Gogoi told an NGO’s counsel, K N Chaudhary, that it would be better if the petitioners awaited the fate of the bill, which is pending in Rajya Sabha. “If Rajya Sabha passes the bill, then the petitioner has to challenge the law,” the Chief Justice said.
However, Chaudhary said the executive orders stopped expulsion of persons even after the Foreigners Tribunal declared them as ‘foreigners’. The bench replied, “Stopping expulsion of foreigners belonging to certain specified religious groups is not the same as granting them citizenship.”
In its order, the bench said, “We are of the view that this matter should remain pending and be taken up only after the Citizenship Act Amendment Bill... reaches finality.”