NEW DELHI: The Centre on Wednesday told the Supreme Court that guidelines will be framed by a committee in connection with the seizure of electronic devices such as phones and laptops by investigating agencies.
Additional Solicitor General S V Raju, representing the Centre, submitted before a bench of Justice Sanjay Kishan Kaul and Justice Sudhanshu Dhulia, that the committee is being set up.
"We will come out with guidelines,” he said, asking the court to grant him some time.
Senior advocate Nitya Ramakrishnan, representing one of the petitioners, submitted that Centre has delayed in coming up with guidelines on this matter.
“What is the problem? There must be some end to this time frame,” the bench said.
The ASG said, “We are positive as far as this is concerned, some guidelines will come out.”
The bench said that two years have passed since a notice was issued on one of the petitions.
Raju assured the court that the government will come out positive and the petitioners may give their suggestions, and the concerned authorities will consider it.
The bench said the petitioners’ have already given their suggestions.
“When will you come up with the guidelines," the bench asked Raju, who submitted that he will come back with something next week.
At this juncture, Ramakrishnan said, “I am anxious that it should not be deleted from the list that day.”
Justice Kaul, however, said that he cannot guarantee that.
The apex court was informed that 300 devices have been seized from some 90 journalists following the NewsClick case.
“This is absolutely an assault on press freedom and academic freedom and they want to continue doing it. That is why they are delaying it endlessly,” the petitioner’s counsel said.
The court fixed the matter for further hearing on December 14.
A plea by ‘Foundation for Media Professionals’ sought comprehensive guidelines for the search and seizure of digital devices by investigating agencies.
On November 7, the Supreme Court had asked the Centre to put in place guidelines on seizure of electronic devices like phones and laptops of individuals, particularly media professionals, while terming the matter as serious and conveying its concern.