New Delhi: The Centre on Wednesday told the Supreme Court that a committee is being constituted and guidelines will be framed regarding the seizure of electronic devices such as phones and laptops by investigating agencies.
The apex court had on November 7 asked the Centre to put in place guidelines on the seizure of electronic devices of individuals, particularly media professionals, and had termed it a serious matter.
“In this matter, I was to come back with guidelines. The committee is being set up and we will come out with guidelines,” Additional Solicitor General (ASG) S V Raju, appearing for the Centre, told a bench of Justice Sanjay Kishan Kaul and Justice Sudhanshu Dhulia.
Raju requested the bench to grant him some time.
The top court was hearing two petitions, including one filed by ‘Foundation For Media Professionals’, seeking comprehensive guidelines for the search and seizure of digital devices by investigating agencies.
During the hearing, senior advocate Nitya Ramakrishnan, appearing for one of the petitioners, raised the issue of the Centre’s delay in coming up with guidelines in this regard.
“Mr Raju, what is the problem? There must be some end to this time frame”, Justice Kaul said. The ASG replied, “We are positive as far as this is concerned, some guidelines will come out.” When the bench observed that two years had passed since a notice was issued in one of the petitions, the ASG said, “We are going to come out positive, they may give their suggestions, and we will consider them,” the ASG said.
The bench said the petitioners’ have already given their suggestions, “when will you come up with the guidelines”? Raju told the bench that he will “come back with something next week”.
The bench then posted the matter for hearing on December 14.
At this senior advocate Ramakrishnan said, “I am anxious that it should not be deleted from the list that day.” Justice Kaul responded, “That also I cannot guarantee”.
Ramakrishnan said 300 devices have been seized from some 90 journalists following the NewsClick case.
“They cannot work because they don’t have their devices. This is absolutely an assault on press freedom and academic freedom and they want to continue doing it. That is why they are delaying it endlessly,” she said.
The bench observed, “For a change, they have said next week”.
The ASG told the bench that the committee was being constituted and he would try to expedite things. “Try to get it done,” Justice Kaul said.
When the apex court was hearing the matter last month, one of the counsel appearing for the petitioners had said the issue raised was of seminal importance as there were no guidelines regarding when and how the probe agencies seize electronic devices.
PTI

Committee being constituted to frame guidelines on seizure of electronic devices: Centre to SC added by on
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