Monthly Archives: March 2012

Supreme Court Guidelines On National Security And Mobile Connections Verification In India

PRAVEEN DALAL MANAGING PARTNER OF PERRY4LAW CEO PTLBOf late Indian Government has shown great concerns regarding National Security issues and national threats arising out of use of Information and Communication Technology (ICT). Indian Government has been stressing really hard to regulate and control ICT, especially the Internet and Mobile Communications.For instance, the Central Monitoring System (CMS) Project of India has been proposed to regulate and control Telecom Communications over Telecommunication Infrastructure in India. Similarly, establishment of the National Cyber Coordination Centre (NCCC) of India has been suggested to exercise control over Indian Cyberspace.

While National Security is of paramount importance yet it should not be a ground to violate Human Rights and Civil Liberties. Human Rights Protection in Cyberspace is an area that requires urgent attention of United Nations and International Community. The way National Governments are engaging in Illegal and Unconstitutional E-Surveillance and Phone Tapping, Civil Liberties in Cyberspace are in great danger.

I personally believe that there must be a “Constitutional Balance” between National Security and Human Rights Protection Requirements. Giving “Primacy” to one over the other, without engaging in a “Reconciliatory Exercise”, would be “Counter Productive” in the long run.

The Big Brother must not overstep its Constitutional Limitations. For instance, the proposal of Indian Government to constitute an Agency that would scan all Tweets, E-mails, etc must maintain a “Balance” between Civil Liberties and National Security Requirements.

In a significant development regarding National Security arising out of use of Mobile Phones in India, the Supreme Court of India would issue “Directions” on Monday (26-03-2012) on the plea for making strict adherence to verification of consumers before providing connections for mobile phones in the interest of National Security.

The guidelines have been framed by the Central Government for tightening the verification process for mobile phone connections in India. The Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) has also provided its inputs in this regard to the Supreme Court of India. A Bench of Chief Justice SH Kapadia, Justice AK Patnaik and Justice Swatanter Kumar reserved its order in the past.

However, the entire exercise seems to be a “Piecemeal Effort” as we have no dedicated Cell Phone Laws in India. The way developments are happening at National and International levels, enactment of dedicated Mobile Phone Laws in India are urgently required. Presently, they are missing and this is creating lots of problems to Telecom Operators, Consumers, Indian Government and various Stakeholders.