‘Committee formed, will issue some guidelines’: Centre tells SC on seizure of digital devices

The petition said that 300 devices have been seized from 90 journalists following the NewsClick case.

WrittenBy:NL Team
Date:
A picture of the Supreme Court alongside 'confiscated' devices.
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The central government will issue “some guidelines” for the seizure of electronic devices by probe agencies, particularly those belonging to journalists, additional solicitor general SV Raju told the top court today, Bar and Bench reported. 

The ASG said a committee has been formed to prepare the guidelines.

The assurance came a month after the Supreme Court had asked the centre to come up with “better guidelines”, reiterating that privacy is a fundamental right. The court was hearing a petition by the Foundation for Media Professionals seeking comprehensive guidelines.

Representing the petitioners, advocate Nithya Ramakrishnan emphasised “there must be a warrant” for such seizures and that “copies of necessary data on devices can be taken” instead of the entire device. Ramakrishnan noted that “300 devices have been seized from 90 journalists following the NewsClick case. They have been stymied. They cannot work…It's an assault on press freedom and academic freedom.” 

While slamming the centre for not issuing guidelines even after two years of the SC’s notice in the matter, the bench of justices Sanjay Kishan Kaul and Sudhanshu Dhulia said “umeed pe duniya kayam hain (the world is living on hope).” 

ASG Raju said, “We are positive that there will be some guidelines. Committee has been constituted, I'll try to expedite the process.”

The bench will now hear the matter on December 14. 

Newslaundry earlier reported on the burden of arbitrary digital device seizures on journalists, media outlets and the toll it could take on their personal and professional lives. Read all about it here. 

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