The uninformed media is at work since morning commenting on the MHA Order notifying additional agencies empowering use of powers under Section 69 of ITA 2000/8.
According to the notification, 10 agencies such as the IB, ED, CBI etc are notified as authorized agencies.
Until now according to the earlier notification G.S.R. 780 (E) dated 27th October 2009, for such orders the competent authority was the “Secretary of Ministry of Home Affairs” in the Central and State Governments. No other agency had been named for execution of the action envisaged.
The Competent authority was empowered to authorize an agency of the Government for the purpose. The process for authorization was detailed in the notification. What the MHA has now done is to exercise these powers to notify the agencies which can exercise the powers.
The powers are as per restrictions inherent in Section 69 (1) and are well within the constitutional provisions.
For immediate reference we quote the section 69(1).
“Where the central Government or a State Government or any of its officer specially authorized by the Central Government or the State Government, as the case may be, in this behalf may, if satisfied that it is necessary or expedient to do in the interest of the sovereignty or integrity of India, defense of India, security of the State, friendly relations with foreign States or public order or for preventing incitement to the commission of any cognizable offence relating to above or for investigation of any offence, it may, subject to the provisions of sub-section (2), for reasons to be recorded in writing, by order, direct any agency of the appropriate Government to intercept, monitor or decrypt or cause to be intercepted or monitored or decrypted any information transmitted received or stored through any computer resource”
It is prudent for responsible citizens to recognize that the powers are to be exercised under a process and are well within the provisions of Constitution and refrain from making a hue and cry about a routine notification.
Such powers of India has been there since long under Telegraph Act itself and is also present world over including USA and UK. The powers are essential for Governance and does not preclude action against people who misuse.
Section 69 itself contains an inbuilt provision for preventing misuse which may be invoked if concerned citizens have any issues.
Under Section 69(2), the law provides that the
“Procedure and safeguards subject to which such interception or monitoring or decryption may be carried out shall be such as may be prescribed”.
In the event the procedures and safeguards are not followed even by a Government official, it would tantamount to “Unauthorized Access” and could be considered as an offence under Section 66 of ITA 2000/8 which has a punishment of upto 3 years.
Those who are today throwing tantrums on the TV and those members of the media who are raising the bogey of Privacy, Constitutional rights etc are either not adequately informed or are as usual raising a bogey to criticize the Government.
I will not be surprised if politicians raise ruckus in the Parliament and some activists also go to Supreme Court against the order.
Let’s understand the law as it is and respond without raising a needless false alarm.
The Second Awakening… What is there in Rules of Oct 27, 2009 on Section 69?
The Second Awakening… What is Section 69?
Snooping and Section 69 of ITA 2000: Beyond Politics, Distrust and Passion..The second awakening
Agencies empowered under Sec 69. No Need to raise a false alarm