Snooping row: Jaitley says order issued under 2009 rules, cites national security2 min read . Updated: 21 Dec 2018, 05:35 PM IST
Opposition making a mountain where even a molehill does not exist: Finance minister Arun Jaitley
New Delhi: As its move to allow 10 agencies to intercept information on computers triggered a row, the government on Friday said the authorisation was given under 2009 rules and dismissed the Opposition’s charge of snooping, saying they were playing with national security and “making a mountain where even a molehill doesn’t exist".
The issue rocked the Rajya Sabha as Leader of Opposition Ghulam Nabi Azad alleged that “undeclared Emergency has taken final shape" and “all federal agencies have been let loose".
Union minister Arun Jaitley hit back, saying the Congress was crying foul over powers created by it when it was in the government.
Congress leader Anand Sharma said the issue was serious and “India will become a police state" with such “sweeping powers" to agencies to intercept information.
Responding to the charge, Jaitley said it would have been better if the Opposition had obtained all information before raising this issue. He told the House that the rules under which agencies will be authorised to intercept information were framed in 2009 when the Congress-led UPA was in power. “So what you are doing Mr Anand Sharma is making a mountain where even a molehill does not exist.
“You must know this and as a the leader of the Opposition your word is sacrosanct, so don’t use it for a purpose where a power which you created, which is to be used in national security cases, now you are crying foul about that power."
However, Azad said there was no mention of national security in the order. “The BJP seems to think it has ownership rights over national security and it means nothing to us."
To this, Jaitley said: “These are elementary things. It is an authorisation order. The provisions of national security are written in Article 69... You are playing with the security of the country. That is what you have done just now".
Since the Act has been in place, these orders of authorisation are repeated from time to time, he said, adding, they can be used for interception in cases related to national security, disruption of public order, etc. “When senior members from the Opposition raise an issue, every word spoken by them has precious value and therefore they must know facts," Jaitley told the House.
Law minister Ravi Shankar Prasad questioned if the Congress does not want action against terrorists and those playing with national security.
Unhappy with the government’s response, the Opposition members were on their feet raising slogans. “Right to privacy of every citizen on which the Supreme Court has also given its decision is a fundamental right. “Nine agencies and the Delhi Police have been given a sweeping power to intercept through an executive order. India will become a police state, this is not acceptable," Sharma said.
The issue was also raised in the Lok Sabha during zero hour with Revolutionary Socialist Party (RSP) leader N K Premachandran alleging that the move violated fundamental rights.
The order authorises 10 central agencies such as the Intelligence Bureau, the Central Bureau of Investigation and the Enforcement Directorate to intercept, monitor and decrypt any information generated, transmitted, received or stored in any computer.
This story has been published from a wire agency feed without modifications to the text. Only the headline has been changed.