National

Seizure Of Journalists' Devices Very Serious, Need Better Guidelines: Supreme Court To Centre

The Supreme Court on Tuesday expressed concerns over arbitrary seizure of electronic devices like phones and laptops of individuals, particularly media professionals, and urged the Centre to put in place guidelines to protect their interests. The top court's observations come at a time of increasing raids on journalists and media organisations.

Advertisement

Delhi Police raids NewsClick premises
info_icon

The Supreme Court on Tuesday expressed concerns over arbitrary seizure of electronic devices like phones and laptops of individuals, particularly media professionals, and urged the Centre to put in place guidelines to protect their interests. 

The top court's observations come at a time of increasing raids on journalists and media organisations. On October 3, raids were conducted at 88 locations in Delhi and seven in other states that were linked to the media organisation NewsClick. Around 300 electronic gadgets were also seized from the offices of NewsClick and residences of the journalists who were examined. Following the raids, 46 individuals, including nine female journalists, were questioned by the Special Cell in Delhi and NCR.

Advertisement

A bench of Justices Sanjay Kishan Kaul and Sudhanshu Dhulia conveyed their concern to Additional Solicitor General (ASG) S V Raju, who was representing the Centre, about the sweeping powers of probe agencies. "Mr Raju, I find it very difficult to accept that some kind of an all-within power which the agencies have, this is very, very dangerous I think," Justice Kaul observed.

The bench was hearing two petitions, including the one filed by 'Foundation For Media Professionals', seeking comprehensive guidelines for search and seizure of digital devices by the investigating agencies. The counsel, appearing for one of the petitioners, said the issue raised was of seminal importance as there were no guidelines with regard to when and how will the probe agencies seize electronic devices.

Advertisement

The petitioner's counsel also expressed concerns about the state's power on an individual's rights, including the right to privacy. He said nowadays, probe agencies can compel individuals to provide their biometric information, a practice adopted by all political dispensations.

In repsonse, ASG Raju claimed that there are individuals who are 'serial offenders' or 'anti-national elements' who may conceal material data and therefore, some balance was required. He asked for time to prepare guidelines on the same. The bench posted the matter for further hearing in December.

Advertisement

Advertisement

Advertisement

Advertisement

Advertisement

Advertisement