NEW DELHI: On Friday, in the case of Ram Ramaswamy and others versus the Union of India, the Supreme Court of India expressed great dissatisfaction with the Union Government of India for filling a counter affidavit in response to a petition which seeks guidelines for the seizure of personal electronic devices by investigating agencies.
The Bench of Justices Sanjay Kishan Kaul and MM Sundresh ordered the Union Government to file a new counter affidavit along with a proper reply and also directed the union to refer to the international practices in this regard.
Further, the bench said that it is not enough for the Centre to say that the petition is not maintainable. Justice Sundresh orally said that the devices have the personal contents of people which need to be protected.
Additional Solicitor General SV Raju directed the Centre to re-examine the matter. The PIL was filed by Advocate S Prasanna on a behalf of 5 people academicians, namely Ram Ramaswamy (retired JNU Professor), Sujata Patel (Distinguished Professor at Savitribai Phule, Pune University), M Madhava Prasad (Professor of Cultural Studies at English and Foreign Languages University, Hyderabad), Mukul Kesavan (Delhi based writer) and Deepak Malghan (theoretical ecological economist).
The PIL seeks directions from police and investigative agencies, working under the control of Central and State Governments for specifying guidelines with regard to the seizure, examination, and preservation of personal digital and electronic devices and their contents thereof.
The petition focuses on the right to privacy, right against self-incrimination, protection of privileged communication, the integrity of electronic material, and the return of copies of the seized material to the accused or person under the investigation.
“The powers of search & seizure, particularly because they engage fundamental rights such as the right to privacy, the right against self-incrimination, and the right of protection of privileged communication, ought to be therefore read and supplied with adequate safeguards such that they are not abused to defeat such rights. It is imperative that this Hon’ble Court lays down inviolable guidelines, therefore.”
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