In a pleasant move, A Bench of Justices G S Singhvi and S J Mukhopadhaya sternly told the Indian government that its lacksidial attitude towards technological issues may post a serious threat to Indian national security.
The Bench chided the Centre over its failure in fixing accountability in the leakage of audio tapes containing telephonic conversations of former corporate lobbyist Niira Radia with various persons, including Tata Group chairman Ratan Tata. The Bench also made it clear that it would pass directives for the authorities to ensure no leakage of tapped conversations in future could occur since it might also endanger the national security.
However, what is more pleasant is the acknowledgement of the threats of hacking by the Bench. The Bench also snubbed the government for expressing its difficulties in providing absolute safeguard against the leakage of tapes and hacking in the wake of the fast-changing technology.
The Bench categorically told the Centre that “You must keep pace with technological developments and rather you must keep ahead of them. These conversations (Radia tapes) are of no relevance when we consider that there could be tapes containing crucial information on national security. Such leakage or hacking of computers could pose threats. Further steps will have to be directed by us.
According to Praveen Dalal, leading techno legal expert of Asia and managing partner of ICT law firm Perry4Law, these observations of the Bench have come at the right time as Indian Government is presently facing a “Technology Bankruptcy” and “ICT Emergency” vis-à-vis Cyber Crimes, Cyber Attacks, Cyber Security and other related issues. I congratulate the Bench for taking such a pro active approach, says Praveen Dalal. It is high time to formulate a National Security Policy of India as soon as possible, opines Praveen Dalal.
Surprisingly, the Indian government has admitted that even in these tapes, there could be certain conversations pertaining to national security. The Bench also took note of this precarious situation and asked “So they must also be with everyone who has these tapes. Fortunately they have not come out but what is the guarantee that it has not been passed on other agencies, also those in foreign countries?”
Till Supreme Court of India does not declare laws like official secret, telegraph act, information technology act 2000, etc as “unconstitutional”, nothing is going to improve in India. These laws have been deliberately framed in this manner so that civil liberties in cyberspace and otherwise can be suppressed at will. If even Supreme Court fails to deliver justice, India would become an absolute endemic e-surveillance society and a “banana republic”.