The Supreme Court (SC) has agreed to hear petitions challenging the validity of the notification issued by the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) on December 21 that allows 10 central government agencies wide and sweeping powers to intercept, monitor and decrypt any computer system. The top court issued notice to the Centre and has sought its response within six weeks.
The notification was challenged by advocate M L Sharma, among others, who contend that it should be set aside as it violated Section 21 of the Constitution and was in contradiction with the ruling of the nine-judge Constitution Bench that had declared privacy a fundamental right. The petition also said the government's new order could be used to “fix innocent citizens of India” and the incumbent government could use it for political benefits since the general elections are near.
Relying on Section 69 (1) of the IT Act, the government had said that any subscriber or service provider in charge of any computer resource is bound to extend all facilities and technical assistance to these agencies, failing which they would face a seven-year jail term and also a fine.