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Phone Tapping: Delhi High Court Asks Centre To File Detailed Reply Explaining Procedure For “Monitoring & Interception”

[31 August 2021]

The Delhi High Court asked the Central Government to explain in detail the law and procedure followed by it for monitoring and interception of phones of the citizens of India. The order has been passed by a Division bench of Chief Justice DN Patel and Justice Jyoti Singh on a PIL filed by Centre for Public Interest Litigation, alleging that though its ‘general surveillance mechanisms’ the Government is collecting substantial amount of information about citizens, which flows through the internet. Advocate Prashant Bhushan appearing for CPIL stated that they are particularly aggrieved by Centralised Monitoring System (“CMS”), Network & Traffic Analysis (“NETRA”) and National Intelligence Grid (“NATGRID”). These surveillance systems allow the government to monitor communications of individuals through mobile phones, landlines, and the internet. While CMS is similar to a system in the USA, NATGRID covers bank transactions, bank details, airline ticket bookings etc. Similarly, NETRA system scans information going through internet using keywords. This, he said is an invasion of citizens’ right to privacy under Article 21 of the Constitution, which was upheld by the Supreme Court in Justice KS Puttaswamy judgment.

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