Action Should Be Taken Against Investigating Officer Who Leaks Private Data Of Accused To Third Parties: Karnataka High Court

15th Mar,2021

Action Should Be Taken Against Investigating Officer Who Leaks Private Data Of Accused To Third Parties: Karnataka High Court

In a landmark decision, the Karnataka High Court ruled that an investigating officer has no right to reveal private information seized from an accused's smartphones or electronic devices to a third party without written permission from the court. The High Court added that an investigation officer who leaks such private data to a third party should be prosecuted for dereliction of duty or delinquency. The use of such data retrieved during the course of an investigation does not constitute a breach of the Right to Privacy, according to the Court, because it is protected by the exceptions set out in the KS Puttaswamy decision (which held right to privacy a fundamental right).
However, the investigating officer does not provide any information or data to any third party during the course of the investigation without the written authorisation of the court that has jurisdiction over the case. Importantly, the Court ruled that examining an accused's mobile, laptop, or email account requires a search warrant. A mere order from a trial court to comply with the investigation cannot compel an accused to reveal the password/passcode of his gadgets or accounts.