Indiscriminate spying on individuals not allowed unless statute provides so- SC on Pegasus Snooping case
The Supreme Court gave its order on the Pegasus Snooping case by stating that the petition raised an “Orwellian concern” about the alleged possibility of misusing the 21st century technology for the purpose of hearing, seeing and knowing information which had been supposed to be known by respective individual.
The bench headed by Chief Justice of India had made several observations regarding the allegations against the government for intruding the privacy of general public.
It observed that it is its duty to uphold the constitutional expectations, rule of law and principles of natural justice without being affected by political rhetoric. However, it clarified that political thicket would not under any circumstance prevent the judiciary from raising voice against abuse of fundamental rights.
It addressed the issue of vulnerability of data stored in the cloud and stated that the technology can be useful and at the same time, might breach one’s private space by sharing the information with unauthorized authorities.
The Apex Court’s take on breach of individual’s privacy included every citizen’s right to be protected against violations of privacy. The bench reiterated that restrictions, if any, should pass the constitutional scrutiny as the restrictions ought to bear reasonable explanation.
Furthermore, the bench observed that surveillance is permitted, only when the statute provides so. Unless the surveillance runs on constitutional grounds, it could not be questioned by judiciary. However, the alleged intrusion/surveillance had been conducted without any mention of national security or national interest.
The bench also highlighted the protection to journalistic sources as the same remains primary condition for the freedom of press. The snooping techniques had potential chilling effect and had raised grave allegation on the infringement of basic fundamental rights.
The bench upheld the celebrated values like governmental transparency and openness as the same ensure free flow of information from citizens’ to State. The State ought to gather trust of general public as then only the latter would attain belief in former’s scheme and policies.
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