New Delhi: A public interest litigation (PIL) has been filed in the Delhi High Court, seeking a direction to the Central government to stop its electronic surveillance systems, including NETRA, NATGRID and CMS.

Taking up the PIL today, the Delhi HC has issued a notice to the Centre and others in this regard and sought their views.

The plea had argued that collection of data through the Central Monitoring System (CMS), the National Intelligence Grid (NATGRID) and the NEtwork TRaffic Analysis (NETRA) should be stopped as these three systems create a 360-degree surveillance on the citizens and “endanger” their right to privacy.

The plea was filed by an NGO, the Centre for Public Interest Litigation (CPIL), through senior advocate Prashant Bhushan.

The notices were issued by a bench of Chief Justice DN Patel and Justice Prateek Jalan to the Ministries of Home Affairs, Information Technology, Communications and Law and Justice. The court has listed the matter for next hearing on January 7, 2021.

According to the PIL, the three surveillance systems provide a platform to central and state law enforcement agencies to intercept and monitor all telecommunications in bulk. This, the CPIL argued, infringes upon the fundamental right to privacy of individuals.

The plea contended that there is an "insufficient oversight mechanism" under the prevalent legal system to permit and review the interception and monitoring orders issued by law enforcement agencies.

The Centre should "permanently stop the execution and the operation of the surveillance projects, CMS, NETRA and NATGRID, which allows for bulk collection and analysis of personal data”, the PIL pleads.

The NGO also demanded that a permanent independent oversight body, judicial or parliamentary, should be set up and given powers to authorise and review lawful interception and monitoring orders/warrants under the enabling provisions of the Indian Telegraph Act, 1885 and the Information Technology Act, 2000, PTI reported.