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Judiciary

'To follow CBI manuals on seizure of mobiles, laptops till guidelines framed,' Centre to SC

By LAWSTREET NEWS NETWORK      15 December, 2023 02:22 PM      0 Comments

NEW DELHI: The central government on Thursday told the Supreme Court that the Central Bureau of Investigation's (CBI) manual as well as the Criminal Procedure Code (CrPC) would be followed till the time detailed guidelines with regard to seizure of mobile phones and laptops of the accused are put in place.

A bench of Justices Sanjay Kishan Kaul and Sudhanshu Dhulia noted that Additional Solicitor General S V Raju submits that in the conspectus of the existing CBI Manual and the Karnataka Cybercrime Investigation Manual and the suggestions put forth by petitioners, a number of discussions have been held.

"He will come up with something within six weeks. In the meantime, he assures the court that for the time being, at least the CBI manual will be followed by all the central government agencies," the bench said.

The Court was hearing petitions filed by ‘Foundation for Media Professionals’ and another one for laying down comprehensive guidelines for the search and seizure of digital devices by investigating agencies.

The court has fixed the plea for further consideration on February 6.

The Court had sought to know from the Centre as to when it would come up with the guidelines on seizure of electronic devices such as phones and laptops by investigating agencies as discussion has already been going on for some time.

"Look, the problem is this, how long makes a difference, it has been on for some time now. The Writ Petition is of 2021 and that is why they are concerned. How much time (do) you think it will require? You have been holding meetings but when will the output come,” the bench asked Raju.

The counsel, for his part, replied, “One month’s time”.

On this, the bench asked him not to make it minimum, rather make it maximum.

Raju asked the Court to grant three months’ time to come out with the guidelines.

Upon this, the bench asked Raju, “Are you willing to make a statement in the meantime that you will follow one of the existing manuals at least, which is the existing manual you will follow?”

Raju replied that they will follow the CBI manual and the CrPC. He said the concerned authorities are coming out with something and it will take time as they have to take consultation from the forensics laboratory and other experts also.

He said there is a Karnataka Police Manual, which contains details, and there is also a CBI manual, and further emphasised that it will take time to come out with detailed guidelines.

The counsel, representing one of the petitioners, said that they have already gone through the material and their suggestions incorporate inputs from the CBI’s manual.

The petitioners’ counsel alleged that they are delaying it and asked the Court to issue interim directions. The bench, however, refused it saying that it was not possible at this stage.

The bench added that these are matters that cannot be finished off like this.



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