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HC: Stop collecting call records behind subscribers’ backs

  • Published at 08:12 pm September 29th, 2020
High Court-HC-court
File photo of the High Court Dhaka Tribune

The HC bench of Justice Md Shawkat Hossain, Justice Md Ruhul Quddus, and Justice ASM Abdul Mobin, made the observation in a full text verdict released on the Supreme Court website on September 26

The collection of call lists and audio discussions from public and private phone companies without the knowledge of the subscribers and without a formal requisition must be stopped, the High Court said in a recently released full text verdict. 

The court also asked for a copy of the judgment to be communicated to the Ministry of Law, Justice and Parliamentary Affairs and the Bangladesh Telecommunication Regulatory Commission (BTRC), so that the relevant sections and directions can be circulated to phone companies and other necessary steps may be taken.

The HC bench of Justice Md Shawkat Hossain, Justice Md Ruhul Quddus, and Justice ASM Abdul Mobin, made the observation in a full text verdict released on the Supreme Court website on September 26.

On August 28, 2019, the HC bench gave the verdict acquitting condemned prisoner Oli of the charges of abduction and murder of child Shaikat in Netrokona on February 15, 2010.

“It is our common experience that, nowadays, private communications between citizens, including their audios/videos, are often leaked and published in social media for different purposes. We must not forget that the citizen’s right to privacy in correspondence and other means of communication is guaranteed under article 44 of the constitution, which cannot be easily violated at the insistence of any interested quarter,” the court said in the verdict.

The verdict also said: “The Bangladesh Telecommunication Regulatory Commission and the phone companies operating in Bangladesh have a great responsibility towards proper compliance with the constitutional mandate of maintaining privacy in communication. They cannot provide any information relating to communications of their subscribers and the citizens of the country, unless it is permissible in law matched with the constitution.

“When the investigating officers in relation to a particular investigation/inquiry require any call lists or information relating to someone’s communication, they must make a formal request to the authority concerned of the respective company/office, stating the reason it is necessary for that investigation/inquiry, not in a roving and fishing manner,” said the verdict.

The HC also said: “Only in that case do the phone companies have the obligation to supply the call list or information with the knowledge of the subscriber. Otherwise, the supplied documents would lose their evidentiary value and the supplying person/authority would also be liable for aiding a violation of one’s fundamental right guaranteed under the constitution.”

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