SC Calls on Center to File New Response on Electronic Device Seizure Plea Request Guidelines

On Friday, the Supreme Court asked the Center to file a new response to a plea filed by a group of academics asking police and investigative agencies to clarify guidelines on the seizure, examination and preservation of personal digital and electronic devices and their contents, Live Act reported.

“We are not satisfied with the counter and we are seeking a new appropriate response,” ordered a panel of judges Sanjay Kishan Kaul and MM Sundresh.

The five scholars who filed the brief petition are former Jawaharlal University Professor Nehru Ram Ramaswamy, Savitribai University Professor Phule Pune Sujata Patel, Professor of Cultural Studies at the University of English and Foreign Languages ​​of Hyderabad Madhava Prasad, Professor of Modern Indian History at Jamia Millia Islamia Mukul Kesavan and theoretical ecological economist Deepak Malghan.

The petitioners requested that several instructions be given to the investigation services and the police. including seeking permission from a magistrate before accessing or seizing electronic devices and specifying how the material to be reviewed is relevant or related to the alleged offence.

In the counter-affidavit, the Center had declared that the plea was not admissible. During Thursday’s hearing, the court expressed dissatisfaction with the Centre’s response.

“The counter affidavit is not complete,” the judges said. “Saying unmaintainable, etc., is not enough. Please inquire yourself Additional Solicitor General [SV Raju].”

The training also asked the Center to refer to international practices in this area, Live Act reported.

The case will be heard on September 26.

Advocacy

In the case of urgent seizures, the petition argued that reasons for not seeking permission should be provided in writing to the device owner. The owner of the electronic device should not be forced to reveal passwords, ideally a copy of the hard drive should be taken and not the original, and hard drives should be examined in the presence of the device owner.

“Search and seizure powers, particularly because they engage fundamental rights, must therefore be read and accompanied by adequate safeguards so that they are not abused to defeat those rights,” the petition said, Live Act reported.

The plea also mentioned that several people whose devices were seized in alleged offenses recorded in the recent past belong to the academic field or are notorious perpetrators, Bar and Bench reported.

“The academic community conducts and stores its research and writings in electronic or digital media, and the threat of damage, distortion, loss, or premature exposure of scholarly or literary works if electronic devices are seized is considerable. “, adds the petition. .

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