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Right to privacy: Can BlackBerry messages be used in court? Delhi HC asks government

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This issue has arisen after the Supreme Court declared that right to privacy is a fundamental right. (Image: BlackBerry/IE)

Is there any provision to treat BBM admissible as evidence in court? The Delhi High Court has asked this question to the central government. The confusion is whether messages sent on the BlackBerry Messenger be read as evidence. This issue has arisen after the Supreme Court declared that right to privacy is a fundamental right. According to a report in The Indian Express, the Delhi HC on August 30 asked the government to examine and provide information on this issue. This question came to light when the court was hearing a petition by businessman and meat exporter Moin Akhtar Qureshi, who challenged his recent arrest by the Enforcement Directorate (ED) in a money laundering case.

The IE report said that according to the ED, Qureshi was arrested based on BBM messages exchanged with former CBI chief A P Singh and many other people accused in several criminal cases. Meanwhile, a bench comprising of Justices Siddharth Mridul and Nazmi Waziri asked, “We would like to know, can we look into these BBM messages after the Supreme Court’s nine-bench privacy judgment?” The question was asked to the counsel representing the Centre and the ED. The bench added, “Whether these private messages would be admissible as evidence. Privacy has been held as an integral part of article 21 (life and liberty) of the Constitution. Please examine, as we would like to know it.”

The Delhi High Court issued a notice to the government and ED on Qureshi’s petition that said he had not been informed of the grounds for his arrest, and sought their response within five days, IE reported. “In view of the submissions of the counsel for the petitioner that he has not been informed of grounds of his detention in terms of constitutional imperative under Article 22, it is necessary to issue notice,” PTI quoted the bench as saying.

Qureshi was arrested on August 25. He was sent to a five-day custody of the ED by a trial court the next day for a thorough investigation in the case against him and others. The records collected by the ED from the Income Tax Department in the form of BBM messages have “revealed that Qureshi has taken a huge amount of money from different persons for obtaining undue favours from public servants after exercising his personal influence”. The HC will now hear the matter on September 13.