Hyderabad city police have hastened the checking on the public roads as a crackdown on Ganja users. The new move comes after the Commissioner of Police, Hyderabad instructed all the police stations to carry out raids and searches to catch people who are peddling or consuming the contraband. The viral videos of the checking also show police asking for the phones of the commuter and checking the texts to find anything related to the drugs.
The city police and excise department have set up five pickets across the city. According to the video, the police at the check posts stop consumers travelling in private vehicles as well as public transport like an autorickshaw. The video shows the cops physically checking the people on the road and asking for the phone to check WhatsApp messages.
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The cops key in words like ganja, stuff, maal in the search box to find any clues from the chats of the commuters. If the cops find anything suspicious, they send the chats to the police station for further investigation.
Activists have slammed the move
Activists have slammed the move of Hyderabad police of checking the phones and text. As per the 2017 Supreme Court ruling, privacy is a fundamental right and is a right of every Indian citizen. According to Article 21, which deals with the right to life and liberty, the cops have no right to randomly check the phones of citizens.
There are various procedures that the cops need to take before they can check the phone of any citizen. However, the police commissioner says that it is not illegal.
Deputy Commissioner of Police, South Zone, Gajarao Bhupal said,
“Yes, I am aware that phones are being checked. However, we are not forcing anybody nor are we snatching away their phones to check. People are cooperating and no one is complaining, so I don’t think there is anything illegal.”
According to legal experts, the police needs a warrant to check the phone of an individual. A person’s phone is essentially a private place and the authorities check the phone without any legal procedures, which is illegal.
Karam Komireddy, a Telangana High Court advocate said that any move by the police to check phones was an infringement of privacy and told TNM,
“Right to privacy is part of the constitutional framework and the Supreme Court has held that right to privacy is a fundamental right and is part of Article 21 that deals with the right to life and liberty. The cops have no right to randomly check the phones of people. If they wish to do so, they have to do it by following a procedure established by law. What they are doing is an infringement on the right to privacy and is unwarranted, illegal and unlawful.”
The checking of WhatsApp chats during checking at checkpoints is unusual and comes at a time when the Supreme Court has taken a stern approach in the phone snooping Pegasus case against the government of India.
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