New Delhi [India], Nov 19, 2019 - The Ministry of Home Affairs, while replying to a question in Lok Sabha on tapping of WhatsApp calls and messages, said that Sections of Information Technology Act and Indian Telegraph Act empowers the government of lawful interception of messages.
"Section 69 of the Information Technology Act, 2000 empowers the central government or a state government to intercept, monitor or decrypt or cause to be intercepted or monitored or decrypted, any information generated, transmitted, received or stored in any computer resource in the interest of the sovereignty or integrity of India, security of the state, friendly relations with foreign states or public order or for preventing incitement to the commission of any cognizable offence relating to above or for investigation of any offence," MHA said. "Section 5 of the Indian Telegraph Act, 1885 empowers lawful interception of messages on occurrence of public emergency or in the interest of public safety. This power of interception is to be exercised as per provisions of law, rules and Standard Operating Procedure (SOP). Each such case is approved by the Union Home Secretary, in case of central government; and by Home Secretary of the state concerned, in case of a state government," it added.
The competent authority in the central government has authorised 10 agencies for this purpose - Intelligence Bureau, Narcotics Control Bureau, Enforcement Directorate, Central Board of Direct Taxes, Directorate of Revenue Intelligence, Central Bureau of Investigation, National Investigation Agency, Cabinet Secretariat (RAW), Directorate of Signal Intelligence (For service areas of Jammu and Kashmir, North East and Assam only) and Commissioner of Police, Delhi.
MHA also stated that any interception or monitoring or decryption of any information from any computer resource can be done only by these authorised agencies as per the due process of law, and subject to safeguards as provided in the rules and SOP.
"There is no blanket permission to any agency for interception or monitoring or decryption and permission from competent authority is required, as per the due process of law and rules, in each case. Each case is also reviewed by a committee Chaired by the Cabinet Secretary in case of Central Government and Chief Secretary of the State concerned in case of a State Government," MHA said.