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SC: Can there be a law to protect privacy when gadgets seized?

New Delhi, Dec 6, 2022

The Supreme Court on Monday sought response from the Centre on a plea for framing of a law or guidelines to protect the right to privacy of those whose electronic gadgets are seized by law enforcement agencies and also to bar them from sharing and revealing information from such devices.

Alleging that common people are being harassed by police which force them to unlock their phones and share the contents without prior judicial warrant, an organisation of journalists, ‘Foundation of Media Professionals’, pleaded a bench of Justices Sanjay Kishan Kaul and Abhay S Oka to intervene to stop violation of the right to privacy. It alleged that lack of rule on this issue leaves media personnel more vulnerable owing to their heavy reliance on digital devices for work related to their profession.

Agreeing to hear its plea, the bench issued notice to the Centre seeking its response within eight weeks. The court also took up another petition filed by a batch of academics and researchers to prevent the investigative agencies from causing loss and damage to their research work while seizing their devices.

Senior advocate Nitya Ramakrishnan, appearing for petitioners, pointed out that law enforcement agencies of other countries keep changing their module to protect privacy of the people while conducting search and seizure and alleged that the manual of CBI is not even known as it was filed in a sealed envelope before the bench. “The world has changed so CBI should also change,” the bench said.

[The Times of India]

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