Challenging the constitutionality and legality of the Centres order empowering central agencies and the Delhi Police to snoop on all computers, a public interest litigation (PIL) was filed before the Supreme Court on Monday seeking quashing of the December 20 order.
The order by the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) authorised 10 central agencies, including the Intelligence Bureau (IB), the Enforcement Directorate (ED), the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) as well as the Delhi Police to “intercept, monitor and decrypt any information generated, transmitted, received or stored in any computer”.
Filed by advocate M.L. Sharma, the PIL, contending that the MHA order was “illegal, unconstitutional and ultra-vires to the law” said it should be quashed in the interest of justice.
“The blanket surveillance order must be tested against fundamental right to privacy,” the petition said.
It also asked the court to prohibit the agencies from initiating any criminal proceedings or investigation against anybody under the provisions of the Information Technology Act based on the notification.
Incidentally, Sharma was recently reprimanded by the Supreme Court for filing “frivolous” PILs and was imposed a fine of Rs 50,000.
While the opposition has opposed the order accusing Prime Minister Narendra Modi of turning India into a “surveillance state”, the BJP-led Central government has defended the decision citing national security and claiming that the order was a mere repetition of the rules passed during the UPA regime in 2009.