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Guidelines on Search Of Journalists' Digital Devices Soon, Supreme Court Told

Updated: Dec 17, 2023

Senior advocate Nitya Ramakrishnan, appearing for the petitioners, urged the top court for an urgent need for guidelines and suggested that copies of necessary data on devices could be taken instead of seizing the entire content.

In New Delhi, the Centre assured the Supreme Court on Wednesday that it would soon formulate guidelines to regulate the seizure of phones or other digital devices, especially those belonging to media professionals. Additional Solicitor General (ASG) SV Raju informed the bench of Justices Sanjay Kishan Kaul and Sudhanshu Dhulia that a committee has been established, and more time is needed to develop the guidelines.

The bench expressed concern over the two-year delay since the petition was filed, stating, "When did we issue notice? Some time frame has to be followed. Two years have passed." ASG assured the court that the guidelines would be ready by the next week. The bench directed, "Get it done," and scheduled the next hearing for December 14.

Senior advocate Nitya Ramakrishnan, representing the petitioners, emphasized the urgent need for guidelines. She suggested that instead of seizing entire content, copies of necessary data on devices could be taken. Mr. Ramakrishnan claimed that 300 journalists were raided in the recent Newsclick case.

In the previous hearing, the court stressed the necessity for guidelines governing the search and seizure of phones or digital devices, considering that media professionals may possess confidential information or details about their sources. The PIL, filed by the Foundation for Media Professionals, urges the court to establish safeguards against unreasonable interference by law enforcement agencies and create comprehensive guidelines for the search and seizure of digital devices. The petition highlights the growing reliance on personal digital devices by media professionals, emphasizing the need for legal safeguards for the right to privacy in the digital space.

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