District court permission must for accessing phone call, SMS details

February 8, 2017 05:10 AM Republica


In the course of the investigation into the murder of SC Justice Rana Bahadur Bam some five years ago, police had reportedly traced around 500,000 telephone calls and obtained details of about 30,000 SMSs. 
KATHMANDU, Feb 8: The Supreme Court has ordered the government to compulsorily seek permission from the district court if the police or other authorities concerned need to access telephone call records and SMS details for the purpose of criminal investigations.  

A full text of the verdict passed by a joint bench of the then Chief Justice Kalyan Shrestha and Justice Devendra Gopal Shrestha on February 4, 2016 has instructed the government to make necessary arrangements to seek permission from the district court concerned if they want to access phone call and SMS records in the course of any criminal investigation until separate legislations are formulated to this effect. 
 
A full text of the verdict that was recently made public by the apex court stated that since the right to privacy of all the individuals is guaranteed by the constitution itself, the government bodies must seek permission from the district court if they deem it necessary to access phone calls records and message details of any individuals. 

The verdict has categorically stated that it is illegal to seek call details and messages of any individual without the permission from the district court concerned.  The apex court has also directed the government to take necessary legal action against officials providing or seeking illegal access to individuals' call details and other personal details even if it is for the purpose of investigation. 

In the course of the investigation into the murder of SC Justice Rana Bahadur Bam some five years ago, police had reportedly traced around 500,000 telephone calls and obtained details of about 30,000 SMSs. 

A writ petition was jointly filed at the SC by advocates Baburam Aryal, Tanka Raj Aryal, Santosh Babu Sigdel and journalist Taranath Dahal after the modus operandi of the police investigation became public. The petitioners had made the Office of Prime Minister and Council of Ministers, Ministry of Home Affairs, Ministry of Information and Communications, Nepal Police, Nepal Telecommunications Authority, Nepal Telecom, Ncell and United Telecom Limited as defendants. 

The petitioners had argued that the right to privacy is one of the fundamental rights of an individual enshrined in the constitution, and the government or any third party should not use or make public the personal details of any individual without his or her consent. The verdict has stated that a clear law should be formulated to access private information of individuals for criminal investigation.  
   

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