Oct 30, 2021 08:42 UTC
Oct 30, 2021 at 08:43 UTC
Legal notice to Hyderabad Police Commissioner over search of mobile phones of citizens WhatsApp chat for drugs
A legal notice has been sent to the Hyderabad Police Commissioner initiating disciplinary actions over the illegal search of mobile phones of citizens by the police officers.
For the past few days, on the instructions of the Hyderabad Commissioner of Police, every police station has been instructed to carry out raids and searches to find people peddling or consuming ganja in Hyderabad. The police were checking through their WhatsApp messages for words like ‘ganja’, ‘drugs’ disregarding the privacy of the citizens.
The notice has been sent by one Srinivas Kodali, an independent privacy researcher with the assistance of the Internet Freedom Foundation.
The legal notice highlighted that the police officers do not have the power to stop ordinary citizens and request them to unlock their devices and search the contents under the Code of Criminal Procedure (CrPC). Further, the notice relied upon a judgment of the Karnataka High Court in Virendra Khanna vs. State of Karnataka.
The notice also contended that the places where these illegal searches were being carried out, people of lower-income groups, vulnerable and marginalised groups resided. The Police officers specifically targeted such areas where residents would not be in a position to decline the requests.
“It is apparent that the police officers are acting on fear and abusing their wide powers and coercive presence to treat all and any persons as suspects without any reasonable basis … There cannot be a more fundamental right to life and personal liberty that your good office has a sworn oath to protect”, the notice stated.