The Supreme Court, while hearing a batch of PILs challenging the Ministry of Home Affairs(MHA) order allowing 10 agencies to conduct surveillance on Monday, has issued a notice to the Central government in the matter. The notice has sought the Centre to issue a statement within six months after which the SC will take up the next hearing.
On December 20, the Ministry of Home Affairs gave ten central agencies the power to intercept and monitor information on computer devices allowing them access to any private computer in the country. The order passed by the MHA gave the central bodies the powers of "interception, monitoring and decryption of any information generated, transmitted, received or stored in any computer".
Amid the allegations of 'snooping' by the Opposition parties against the Narendra Modi government over the MHA over, multiple (PILs) were filed alleging the MHA of violation of Section 69 of the Information Technology Act and the right to privacy.
Defending its order, the government had earlier cited that provision of Section 69 of the Information Technology Act, 2000 that allows agencies to intercept information for the national security. The act states:
"Central Government or a State Government or any of its officers can direct any agency to intercept or decrypt any information for the purpose of national security."
Furthermore, the matter was also raised in Rajya Sabha in December, with the opposition party leaders demanding answers from the Centre on the charges of snooping. Retaliating to charges, Finance Minister Arun Jaitley had cleared the air asserting that the MHA order will not affect the innocent citizens and the notification was passed to keep India away from threats.