New Delhi, January 14: The Supreme Court today has issued a notice to the Narendra Modi led central government over its order authorising 10 central investigative agencies to intercept, monitor, and decrypt any information transmitted, received or stored in any computer. The notice was issued while hearing petitions against the central government’s order. The government had defended the order, saying it was done in the interest of national security. Earlier, it clarified that no new powers were conferred to any of the security or law enforcement agencies.
However, the government had also stated it has the authority to permit any law enforcement agency to monitor any computer in ‘particular’ cases. The Ministry of Home Affairs had said, “Rule 4 of IT (Procedure and Safeguards for Interception, Monitoring and Decryption of Info) Rules'09 provides that ‘the authority may authorise a government agency to intercept, monitor or decrypt info generated, transmitted or stored in any computer for purpose specified in the Act.”
The ministry further added, “No new powers have been conferred to any of the security or law enforcement agencies by the S.O dated 20.12.2018. Each case of interception, monitoring, decryption is to be approved by the competent authority i.e. Union Home Secretary.” It stated that similar provisions and procedures already exist in the Telegraph Act along with identical safeguards.
Union Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad also claimed that it had also been done in national security interest. It has been done under the law made by the Manmohan Singh government in 2009. Each case of interception and the decision is to be approved by the Union Home Secretary. Meanwhile, the government is facing flak from the opposition over the order.