We are aware that the innocuous MHA order on designating 10 agencies through which a competent authority can order interception of electronic communication for reasons of security of state etc., has already been questioned through two PILs in the Supreme Court. These PILs have been filed by the professional PIL advocates M.L.Sharma and Amit Sahni. They are now pending for admission.
We have already discussed the issue involved through several articles listed below.
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
We have categorically stated that Section 69 provides for empowerment of a “Competent Authority” which is the “Secretary of Home Ministry” at the Center and the State, for interception as per the provisions of law as stated in Section 69 of ITA 2000/8 read with the accompanying rules. The law provides for such interception for reasons which are specified in Article 19(2) as reasonable restrictions to the fundamental rights of Privacy. The rules are comprehensive and provides for “Written Instructions stating the purpose of intended interception” to be valid for a limited period of 60 days (renewable for a maximum of 180 days). It also provides for a review by another committee as provided under the Telegraph Act. There is also a provision for destroying the information after its use and punishment for contravention of the rules.
Under such comprehensive guidelines, what the recent MHA order did was to indicate which were the agencies through which the competent authority may exercise its powers. By designating 10 agencies for this purpose, the Government has restricted the use of the powers of interception and prohibited it’s use except through these agencies which will be accountable for following the guidelines through the “Nodal Officers” that they need to designate.
The different PILs were therefore drafted without a basic understanding of law and only for the purpose of publicity and placing hurdles on Governance by the Government.
While the PILs in the Supreme Court are pending, it is strange that the Allahabad High Court has admitted another PIL filed by one Mr Saurabh Pandey and issued notices to the Government. It is common sense that when the superior Court is considering a similar petition, the lower Court could have avoided a duplication of efforts by suggesting the petitioner to either approach the Supreme Court and join the other petitioners or advise him that the petition is redundant.
The Court should have considered that it is sitting on public expense and there should be some discretion in taking up such worthless petitions. It is a waste of public money and a needless obstruction of the Government in discharging its legitimate duties.
In the continuation of this article, we shall address the issues raised point by point and show why the petition is not worth admission. The same arguments also hold good against the petitions of Amit Sahni and M.L.Sharma at the Supreme Court.