The Supreme Court on Monday issued a notice to the Centre on petitions challenging the controversial snooping order that allowed 10 central agencies to monitor, intercept and decrypt any information generated, transmitted, received or stored in any computer in India. The apex court has sought a response from the Centre within 6 weeks and said that it would take up an interim petition to stay the government order on the same day.

The petitions challenging the government’s order have been filed by lawyer Shreya Singhal and Trinamool Congress lawmaker Mahua Moitra and Supreme Court lawyer ML Sharma. The petitioners have termed the order as snooping order and have alleged that it violates the fundamental right to privacy and must be cancelled in the interest of justice.

The 10 central agencies that have been empowered to monitor computers are Narcotics Control Bureau, Enforcement Directorate, Directorate of Revenue Intelligence, National Investigation Agency, Research and Analysis Wing and Delhi Police Commissioner. Directorate of Signal Intelligence (Jammu and Kashmir, North-East and Assam).

The move came under sharp criticism with the Opposition claiming Centre is misusing the central authorities and violating the fundamental rights. Not only the snooping law, but the Centre has made a number of moves towards cyber surveillance. The Centre on 25th December, the central government had a closed-door meeting between the Centre and various Internet service providers about amendments to Section 79 of the Information Technology Act, empowering the Centre to use technology which would help curb unlawful content and trace the origin of these unlawful messages.

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