A three-judge bench of the Supreme Court comprising Chief Justice of India (CJI) Ranjan Gogoi, Justices Ashok Bhushan and Sanjay Kishan Kaul has issued notice to the Central Government on a batch of Public Interest Litigation (PILs) seeking quashing of the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) notification dated December 20, 2018 authorising ten central agencies to “intercept, monitor, and decrypt (collectively described as “Electronic Surveillance”) any information generated, transmitted, received, or stored in any computer resource.” The PILs have been filed by Manohar Lal Sharma, Amit Sahni, Mahua Moitra, Shreya Singhal and Internet Freedom Foundation respectively.
Considering the elaborate scheme of Sections 69(1) of IT Act, 69(2) of IT Act and Rule 4 of IT Rules, even a cursory glance at MHA order would reveal that, MHA order is merely an authorisation and not a direction. It follows as a logical corollary that, the 10 agencies which have been authorised, cannot, merely based on MHA order, intercept, monitor or decrypt or cause to be intercepted or monitored or decrypted any information generated, transmitted or received or stored in any computer resource; at least legally.
Review petition has been filed in the Supreme Court against the judgment of the Constitution bench upholding constitutional validity of Aadhaar. Petitioner Imtiyaz Ali Palsaniya has contended that various grounds urged in applications filed weren't considered by court.
Since Rule 4 of 2009 Rules nowhere contemplates the issuance of an omnibus notification, the very issuance of the notification is de hors the provisions of law, it does not further any Legitimate State Interest; on the contrary, it is against the very Rules under which the notification has been passed, leading credence to the widely-speculated belief that the notification may be one of the many steps to create a cyber surveillance infrastructure.
At 128 in 2018 alone, and about 266 instances of internet shutdowns since 2012, India wears the unenviable crown of curtailing internet connectivity because of flimsy political excuses, despite chanting “Digital India” 24 X 7 X 365. Precisely why the validity of the Internet Shutdown Rules has been questioned in no uncertain terms by Shashi Tharoor, who has urged the government to undertake a comprehensive review of the Internet Shutdown Rules.
‘The Personal Data Protection Bill 2018 addresses some of these concerns. Some significant concepts introduced include the right to be forgotten, data portability, restrictions on cross-border data transmission, carve outs for anonymised data and journalistic purposes, and reporting requirements for personal data breaches.’
Our legal system subscribes to the principle of open justice. The prayer for live-streaming of courtroom proceedings has its genesis in this principle. Open courts effectively foster public confidence by allowing litigants and members of the public to view courtroom proceedings and ensure that the judges apply the law in a fair and impartial manner.
The September 26 judgment violates the court’s own landmark ruling on citizen’s constitutional right to privacy by failing to address why biometric data is required at all for benefits and services received from government. It also fails to take account of the fact that its own orders were violated by both government and private companies during the pendency of the hearings and that passing of Aadhaar Act as a Money Bill was simply unconstitutional, as echoed in Justice Chandrachud’s strong dissent.