The Congress on Wednesday slammed the government over media reports claiming that it was carrying out surveillance of citizens in transgression of the Right to Privacy and accused it of seeking to create a surveillance state.
Congress spokesperson Manish Tewari alleged that the BJP government was seeking to create an 'Orwellian state' by indulging in a "premeditated conspiracy" for which the Congress held it responsible and accountable.
The issue was highlighted in the wake of media reports that claimed cellphone operators red-flagged 'surveillance' after government wanted call records of all users.
Raising questions of surveillance and alleged violation of user privacy guidelines mandated by the Supreme Court, the government has been seeking call data records (CDRs) of all mobile subscribers across several pockets of the country for specific days over the past few months, the reports alleged on Wednesday.
"The reports which have emerged in the public are extremely disturbing because the government has decided to carry out mass surveillance of citizens of India. A sinister, pre-meditated and orchestrated plot has been put in place in order to unleash a mass surveillance programme on the citizens, which is an absolute transgression of the Right to Privacy guaranteed by the SC in a 9-0 judgment," Tewari told reporters.
"We strongly condemn and deprecate this assault on the fundamental freedom which have been provided in the Constitution and have been interpreted by the Supreme Court of India," he said.
Tewari alleged that it is seeking to create an 'Orwellian state' and the Congress condemns the government. He said it was in violation and transgression of the rules, which were tightened by the then UPA government in 2013 with regard to obtaining call detail records (CDRs), and electronic interception of telephones and cyber communication.
"Why and how are these things being violated with impunity on a daily basis," the Congress leader asked.
On the government seeking the call records of mobile users on the grounds of national security, the Congress leader said national security cannot be the fig leaf in order to legitimise every crime.
"You cannot do it on a blanket basis. It violates the rules under the Telegraph Act which were formulated post the PUCL Vs Union of India judgment delivered on December 18, 1996. It is in violation of the Indian Telegraph Act 1885 and of Section 69 of the Information Technology Act. It is also in violation of the updated guidelines put in place by the UPA Government in 2013.
"What the government has done is the monstrous crime. It is an illegality which has been committed. It is an assault on the fundamental rights of citizens," he alleged.
"Spying on their own citizens is not new to the BJP. Only an insecure govt would take such a step defying the Right to Privacy as declared by the Supreme Court. Do SC verdicts mean nothing to the BJP," asked the Congress on its official Twitter handle.