Saturday, January 8, 2011

Lawful Interception Law Missing In India Says Praveen Dalal

In this “Guest Column”, Praveen Dalal Supreme Court Lawyer and CEO of Exclusive Human Rights Protection Centre in Cyberspace (HRPIC) of India, has shared his views regarding phone tapping and e-surveillance laws of India. The views and opinions are solely of Mr. Praveen Dalal and we do not endorse or substantiate his viewpoints.

It is both ironic and sad that laws used by British Government against Indians are used by our own Indian Government against its own Citizens. There are many “Draconian Colonial Laws” that were kept intact by Indian Government even if they go against the very Philosophy and Spirit of Indian Constitution. This is because these Outdated and Unconstitutional Laws are well serving the “Purposes” of Indian Government.

One of such laws that require an immediate repeal is the Indian Telegraph Act, 1885. It is the most abused law of India when it comes to Phone Tapping and Illegal Surveillance. The fact and truth is that India does not have a Legal and Constitutionally Sound Phone Tapping and E-Surveillance Law.

Even after the Supreme Court of India declared Right to Privacy a part of Article 21 of Indian Constitution, Indian Government kept at bay the requirement to protect Privacy Rights of its Citizens. Instead, it preferred to impose Projects and Authorities without any Legal Framework. This is nothing but a “Complete Failure” of “Parliamentary Democracy” in India. I wonder whether India has Separation of Powers anymore.

So much so that even after the Supreme Court’s Judgment in PUCL case prescribed minimum “Safeguards” against Illegal Phone Tapping, nothing has changed. The “Safeguards” provided by Supreme Court were “Sub Minimum” and even those Safeguards are not followed in India.

Naturally, even Private Individuals also jumped upon Illegal Phone Tapping and E-Surveillance business and they are openly operating in India. This is bound to happen because when even the Government is not “Fair”, it cannot expect its Citizens to be honest and upright.

Till now it is clear that India would not provide any sort of Privacy Rights to its Citizens and would not protect their crucial Data through a dedicated and strong Data Protection Law in India. The only safeguard that is available against Indian Government and Private Individuals from violating our Privacy Rights is to use “Self Defence Measures”.

This is the reason why I believe that Google, Skype, Blackberry, etc must not succumb to the pressures of Indian Government. They must strongly refuse to share any information regarding its users unless and until there is a “Court Order” in this regard.

Time has come for the Supreme Court of India to stop Indian Executive from Hijacking the Constitution of India, by bypassing both Parliament of India and Indian Judiciary. Since the matter is pending before Supreme Court, it can lay down “Stringent Requirements” before Phone Tapping and E-Surveillance can be conducted in India.