Search and seizure powers of probe agencies must strike a balance with privacy rights: CJI

Justice Chandrachud would have a tenure of two years as the CJI and is due to retire on November 10, 2024. Photo: Manorama Online.

New Delhi: Chief Justice of India (CJI) D Y Chandrachud on Monday said there is a need to have a "delicate balance" between the search and seizure powers vested with investigative agencies like the CBI and an individual's right to privacy.

The CJI was delivering his keynote address at the 20th D P Kohli Memorial lecture held in honour of the first director of the federal probe agency.

In the realm of criminal justice, the delicate balance between search and seizure powers and individual privacy rights stands and this is at the cornerstone of a fair and just society, Justice Chandrachud said.
He added that at the heart of this balance lies the need to uphold due process. The CJI also flagged "unwarranted" confiscation of personal devices.

He also asked the investigative agencies to "pick their battles", saying instead of spreading out too thinly in various cases, they should concentrate on crimes that threaten the security and economic health of the country and public order.

Justice Chandrachud said the landscape of crime was evolving at an "unprecedented pace" and probe agencies like the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) must build their capacities to tackle them apart from harnessing Artificial Intelligence (AI) tools.

He said as our world becomes increasingly interconnected through the expansion of digital technologies -- from cybercrime and digital fraud to the exploitation of emerging technologies for illicit purposes -- law enforcement agencies like the CBI are faced with new and complex challenges that demand innovative solutions.

The investigating agencies have to keep up with the radical change in crime, he said.  

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