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Punjab and Haryana HC direct bail applicant to share location; raises privacy concerns

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Photo: Katrin Bolovtsova / Pexels

The Punjab and Haryana High Court has granted bail to a convict of dacoity with murder, with a unique condition of maintaining a mobile phone and sharing the live location with police.

The case involving petitioner Anup, also known as Foji, centres on his conviction under Sections 396 (dacoity with murder) and 201 of the Indian Penal Code (IPC) in 2019. The trial court sentenced Anup to life imprisonment and fined him. However, he appealed his conviction to the High Court and sought suspension of his sentence pending the appeal, reports Live Law.

A division bench, including Justice Deepak Sibal and Justice Deepak Manchanda, established specific conditions for granting bail to Anup. Anup must possess a continuously active smartphone and share his phone number and live location with his residential area’s Station House Officer (SHO).

Furthermore, Anup is required to visit the police station on the 1st of each month and obtain permission before departing from the jurisdiction of the relevant police station.

In its ruling, the High Court acknowledged the pending appeal and the need to suspend Anup’s sentence during this period. Among the conditions imposed, the court emphasized that Anup must possess a smartphone, keep it switched on, and share his location regularly with the local police.

Furthermore, the court directed the SHO to maintain records of Anup’s compliance with these conditions and submit reports every six months to the Superintendent of Police for monitoring.


What are the privacy concerns?

This decision by the Punjab and Haryana High Court raises broader questions about the balance between law enforcement needs, individual rights, and technological, and technological inventions.

It is noteworthy that the Supreme Court is currently deliberating on the issue of bail conditions related to sharing live locations with investigating officers and its implications on the right to privacy. In April, the Supreme Court observed that asking a person to share a Google PIN with law enforcement as a bail condition infringes Article 21.

“No person shall be deprived of his life or personal liberty except according to procedure established by law,” says Article 21.

In the famous Justice K.S. Puttaswamy case of 2017, the Supreme Court’s nine-judge bench unanimously declared the right to privacy a fundamental right.

This recent Punjab and Haryana Court decision raises privacy concerns about individual rights and how the government can track individuals without a clear justification or due process.

The recent calls for monitoring individuals on bail raise concerns about the expanding surveillance strategies used by law enforcement. They highlight the need to consider alternative measures for ensuring the accused’s presence within the specified jurisdiction.

Recently, Greater Chennai Police (GCP) upgraded its surveillance system with vehicle-mounted cameras. In August 2023, it was reported that the Indian government, in cohorts with the private sector, was looking to install hardware in subsea cable landing stations.

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Kumar Hemant

Deputy Editor at Candid.Technology. Hemant writes at the intersection of tech and culture and has a keen interest in science, social issues and international relations. You can contact him here: kumarhemant@pm.me

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