"Point out in detail the law and procedure followed by the Union of India for monitoring and interception of phones,” the Delhi High Court ordered during a hearing on August 31, according to a LiveLaw report. The court was hearing a petition filed by the Center for Public Interest Litigation (CPIL) and Software Freedom Law Center (SFLC) which challenges the validity of surveillance projects such as CMS (Centralised Monitoring System), NETRA (Network Traffic Analysis), and NATGRID (National Intelligence Grid). The three surveillance systems put together are believed to cast a wide snooping net on Indian citizens, like America's PRISM programme, with very few checks and balances in place. Concerns against such surveillance systems have increased in light of the Pegasus controversy which revealed the true extent of state surveillance. What happened during the hearing? Senior Advocate Prashant Bhushan, who appeared for the petitioners, argued that the widespread snooping arising out of these projects is an invasion of citizens' right to privacy under Article 21 of the Constitution. He urged the bench to form a committee headed by a retired judge of the Supreme Court or the High Court to investigate these projects and the extent of their surveillance. Bhushan, in his arguments, also charged that issuing interception orders has become routine and cited the following passage from a report by the Committee of Experts under the Chairmanship of Justice B.N. Srikrishna: "For each of these mechanisms, oversight is carried out through a Review Committee set up under the Telegraph Rules.379 This Committee …
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