Published: 14th January 2020
JNU violence: HC asks cops to seize WhatsApp groups' phones
The directions came as the court was hearing a plea filed by three JNU professors seeking preservence of CCTV footage and evidence relating to WhatsApp groups
The Delhi High Court on Tuesday directed the Delhi Police to summon the members of the two suspected WhatsApp Groups -- Friends of RSS and Unity Against Left -- and seize their phones in connection with the violence that erupted in the Jawaharlal Nehru University on January 5.
Justice Brijesh Sethi directed WhatsApp and Google to preserve the data based on the basic subscriber information including the email id as per their policy.
The directions came as the court was hearing a plea filed by three JNU professors seeking preservence of CCTV footage and evidence relating to WhatsApp groups. The petition, filed through advocates Abhik Chimni, Maanav Kumar and Roshni Naamboodiry sought a direction to the Delhi Police to retrieve all CCTV footage of JNU campus.
During the course of hearing, counsel for Google argued that WhatsApp should share the email address. If they did then they will be preserved by the search engine. WhatsApp responded: "We don't have access to the chat content. We will put it on affidavit."
"It works on end to end encryption and the only way to access and preserve it is by preserving the phone of those persons. I am willing to do what the law intends to. No technology to break through that encryption," the counsel for WhatsApp explained further.
Responding, Google's counsel said: "WhatsApp can give basic subscriber information and that's at least can be done." Senior advocate Rebecca John appearing for the petitioner said that basic users entered in this group and exited. The phone is a piece of primary evidence. There are many numbers. Once police seize any phone they can get basic information from WhatsApp.
Delhi government standing counsel Rahul Mehra appearing for the Delhi Police said that they have identified 37 people of the WhatsApp groups. Some were absconding but they will all be summoned. After the conclusion of the hearing, the petition filed by JNU professors Ameet Parameswaran, Atul Sood and Shukla Vinayak was disposed off.