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SC sees seizure of journalists’ digital gadgets as a serious issue amid crackdown on NewsClick

SC sees seizure of journalists’ digital gadgets as a serious issue amid crackdown on NewsClick

New Delhi: The Supreme Court, on Tuesday, expressed the need for comprehensive guidelines to govern the search and seizure of digital devices belonging to media professionals. The observation came during the hearing of a plea filed by the Foundation for Media Professionals, which sought clear directives on the matter.

A bench comprising Justices Sanjay Kishan Kaul and Sudhanshu Dhulia acknowledged the gravity of seizing digital devices and emphasized the importance of protecting the rights of media professionals.

The court stated, "You must have better guidelines. You want us to do it, we'll do it. But my view is that you ought to do it yourself. It can't be a State that's run through its agencies. You must analyze what kind of guidelines are necessary to protect. This is not adversarial. We'll give you time."

Underlining the fundamental right to privacy guaranteed by the Constitution, the apex court directed the Additional Solicitor General to work on comprehensive guidelines and present them for further review. The case has been scheduled for the next hearing on December 6.

The call for clearer guidelines follows recent raids on the digital media platform NewsClick and its journalists, prompting 15 media associations to write to Chief Justice of India (CJI) DY Chandrachud. The letter urged the formulation of guidelines regarding the interrogation of journalists and the seizure of digital devices from them.

Responding to the growing concern, five academicians, including Ram Ramaswamy, former JNU professor; Mukul Kesavan, Professor of Modern Indian history at Jamia Millia Islamia; Madhava Prasad, Professor of Cultural Studies; Sujata Patel, Professor at Savitribai Phule Pune University; and Deepak Malghan, an ecological economist and social activist, filed a petition at the Supreme Court.

The petition calls for the court to direct authorities to establish clear guidelines to be followed during the seizure and examination of digital and electronic devices.

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TAGS:Supreme CourtNewsClickCJI DY ChandrachudFoundation for Media Professionalsto Chief Justice of India
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