Keep call data records secure, SC tells cellular firms

Bench says parties in the case can then summon such records at the stage of defence evidence

July 16, 2020 04:02 am | Updated 04:02 am IST - NEW DELHI

The Supreme Court has issued general directions to cellular companies and internet service providers to maintain call data records (CDRs) and other relevant electronic records seized during an investigation in a “segregated and secure manner.”

A Bench led by Justice Rohinton F. Nariman said parties in the case “can then summon such records at the stage of defence evidence, or in the event such data is required to cross-examine a particular witness.”

“This direction shall be applied, in criminal trials, till appropriate directions are issued under relevant terms of the applicable licences, or under Section 67C of the Information Technology Act,” the court said in a 141-page judgment.

Section 67C deals with the preservation and retention of information by intermediaries. It says an “intermediary shall preserve and retain such information as may be specified for such duration and in such manner and format as the Central government may prescribe”.

Electronic evidence

The court was dealing with the question as to the requirement of certification as a prior condition for the production of electronic evidence under Section 65B(4) of the Indian Evidence Act. The court conveyed its awareness to the fact that increasingly the fate of many criminal cases depend on electronic evidence. It said certification of the electronic records under Section 65B(4) was necessary to admit it as evidence.

Justice Nariman, in the judgment, noted that the Department of Telecommunication’s licence conditions “generally oblige internet service providers and providers of mobile telephony to preserve and maintain electronic call records and records of logs of internet users for a limited duration of one year.”

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