• Tuesday, Mar 21, 2023
  • Last Update : 10:24 am

Public servants cannot violate citizens’ right to privacy, observes Jhenaidah judge

  • Published at 08:55 am October 2nd, 2021
Representational image Bigstock

Govt officials cannot seize a citizen’s phone and read his or her private messages, says the court

A Jhenaidah court has come to the aid of a man who was about to become a victim of abuse of power by a public servant and observed that a citizen’s right to privacy cannot be violated under any circumstances.

The observation by the court of the District and Sessions Judge came in August during the hearing of a bail petition of a 27-year-old man, who was prosecuted under the Digital Security Act in a case filed by an employee of the office of Kalinganj UNO (upazila administration chief).

On August 2, Kaliganj resident Mohammad Ajijul Haque snapped some pictures on his phone of policemen assaulting a bus driver during a mobile court drive led by the UNO and shared them on a private group on WhatsApp, according to media reports.

And that was it! The mobile court detained him, seized his phone before taking screengrab of the messages and the 27-year-old was prosecuted under the Digital Security Act.

Charges of defamation, disseminating false information and obstruction of justice — all non-bailable offences — were pressed against Ajijul, who had to spend three weeks in jail before securing bail on August 24.

Also Read - News Analysis: What about an ordinary person's right to privacy?

During the bail hearing on August 24, District and Sessions Judge Md Showkat Hossain said that a citizen's right to privacy cannot be violated even when he or she is being prosecuted under the Digital Security Act, say media reports.

A public servant, such as a UNO (upazila administration chief), does not have the right to seize a citizen’s mobile phone and read his or her private messages, the court said.

Describing the charges brought against Ajijul as “wrong”, it said that they were contradictory to the constitutional rights.

The court said that the police should have thoroughly investigated before even accepting the case.

Also Read - Is privacy a fundamental right?

The judge said that charges of defamation and obstruction of justice do not hold as WhatsApp messages are end-to-end encrypted, which means only the sender and recipients can see it and that such conversations cannot defame anyone or pose a threat to law and order.

Media reports quoted UNO Sadia Zerin saying that she thought Ajijul needed to be prosecuted under the Digital Security Act "considering the circumstances". She, however, declined to comment on the court’s observation.

Plaintiff Lutfur Rahman, an office assistant of the UNO offices, said he lodged the digital security case upon Zerin’s orders.

Facebook 50
blogger sharing button blogger
buffer sharing button buffer
diaspora sharing button diaspora
digg sharing button digg
douban sharing button douban
email sharing button email
evernote sharing button evernote
flipboard sharing button flipboard
pocket sharing button getpocket
github sharing button github
gmail sharing button gmail
googlebookmarks sharing button googlebookmarks
hackernews sharing button hackernews
instapaper sharing button instapaper
line sharing button line
linkedin sharing button linkedin
livejournal sharing button livejournal
mailru sharing button mailru
medium sharing button medium
meneame sharing button meneame
messenger sharing button messenger
odnoklassniki sharing button odnoklassniki
pinterest sharing button pinterest
print sharing button print
qzone sharing button qzone
reddit sharing button reddit
refind sharing button refind
renren sharing button renren
skype sharing button skype
snapchat sharing button snapchat
surfingbird sharing button surfingbird
telegram sharing button telegram
tumblr sharing button tumblr
twitter sharing button twitter
vk sharing button vk
wechat sharing button wechat
weibo sharing button weibo
whatsapp sharing button whatsapp
wordpress sharing button wordpress
xing sharing button xing
yahoomail sharing button yahoomail