The Opposition on Friday attacked the BJP-led government over its order allowing 10 central security and investigative agencies and Delhi Police to intercept, monitor and decrypt any computer, terming this a breach of right to privacy and describing it as a “surveillance and Orwellian” state.
“Through this order the BJP government is converting India into a surveillance state. It is an ultimate assault on the fundamental rights and Rights to Privacy,” Congress leader Anand Sharma told reporters outside Parliament.
He said that the order was also in direct conflict with the Supreme Court judgement that “right to privacy is a fundamental right”.
“The government has done it by strength we collectively oppose it. This gives unlimited powers to all these agencies to monitor every information,” he added.
Senior Congress leader and former Home Minister P. Chidambaram said if anybody is going to monitor computers, then it is an Orwellian state.
West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee also took to Twitter to attack the Centre’s order.
“I have come to know that Union Home Ministry has issued an order yesterday authorising 10 Central Agencies to carry out interception, monitoring and decryption of any information generated, transmitted, received or stored in any computer resource.
If it is for National Security, then only for that purpose Central Government already has the machinery. But, why all commoners will be affected? Public Opinion please… Blanket surveillance is bad in law,” she said.
Rashtriya Janata Dal (RJD) leader Manoj Jha said, “We have seen their modus-operandi through whatever we learnt from the corridors of te CBI. This goes on to confirm that we are living in an Orwellian state. It is a challenge and dangerous to the media also.”
Samajwadi Party leader Ram Gopal Yadav described it as a “dangerous order” and alleged that the government was moving on the path of dictatorship.
“The decision is very dangerous and the government has started to move on the path of dictatorship,” he said.
Yadav also said that the government has taken the step after its losses in the recently- concluded Assembly polls.
“I want to warn them that this order is in their hands only for four months and after that a new government would be here. So they should not dig holes for themselves,” the SP leader added.
Communist Party on India (Marxist) general secretary Sitaram Yechury also criticised the government for treating every citizens like a criminal and described the order as unconstitutional.
“Why is every Indian being treated like a criminal? This order by a government wanting to snoop on every citizen is unconstitutional and in breach of the telephone tapping guidelines, the privacy Judgement and the Aadhaar judgement,” Yechury tweeted.
The remarks of the opposition leaders came on a Home Ministry order that allowed 10 central intelligence and investigating agencies and the Delhi Police to intercept, monitor and decrypt “any information” generated, transmitted, received or stored in “any computer”.
Congress spokesperson Randeep Singh Surjewala also took to twitter and attacked the government.
“This time, attack on privacy. Modi government mocks and flouts Fundamental ‘Right to Privacy’ with brazen impunity! Having lost elections, now wants to scan/snoop your computers? ‘Big Brother Syndrome’ is truly embedded in NDA’s DNA!,” Surjewala said.
Senior Congress leader Ahmed Patel said, “The sweeping powers given to agencies to snoop phone calls and computers without any checks and balances is extremely worrisome. This is likely to be misused.”
“The Government order giving a blanket approval to electronic surveillance is a direct assault on civil liberties and personal freedom of citizens,” he tweeted,” Patel added.
AIMIM and Lok Sabha member, Asaduddin Owaisi, said: “Modi has used a simple government order to permit our national agencies to snoop on our communications. Who knew that this is what they meant when they said ‘ghar ghar Modi’.
“George Orwell’s Big Brother is here and welcome to 1984,” he had tweeted late on Thursday.