WhatsApp group row: No SC respite to 4 suspended indian Army officer

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News Desk

The Indian Supreme Court on Thursday rejected a petition by four senior army officers seeking protection of their right to privacy and challenging their suspension for being part of a whatsapp group, allegedly having Pakistani Intelligence Operative (PIO) as member and which was a medium for immoral activities.

Appearing for the petitioners – three Colonels and a Lt Col, advocate and ex-Colonel Amit told a bench of Justices M R Shah and B V Nagarathna that these officers were suspended illegally even before the commencement of Court of Inquiry and merely on the basis of evidence allegedly gathered by the Board of Officer.

He said that these officers’ mobile phones and data have been unauthorisedly seized by the army authorities and personal conversations are being used to blackmail them and harm their reputation even though they have rendered more than two decades of impeccable service to the security of the nation. “Let them be hanged if found guilty, but they should not be persecuted,” he said.

The bench asked the advocate not to get emotional and said that there was no merit in the argument that a suspension could not be effected without completion of CoI. Solicitor general Tushar Mehta assured the court that these officers have not yet been arrested and that they will be proceeded against strictly in accordance with the Army Act and other established provisions of law.

When the suspended army officers’ counsel pleaded that their private conversations available in their mobile phones and other electronic devices should not be made public, the bench said, “Reputation and dignity has a wide amplitude. When a person’s conduct and activity affects the integrity and security of the nation, the individual’s reputation and dignity takes a secondary place.”

“The petitioners are not entitled to any relief,” the bench said while dismissing the petition. The suspension order for all four officers were similar and contained the same clause – “The officer has been part of a Whatsapp group on mobile phone which includes unverified Foreign nationals as its members, not known to the officer personally. The mobile phone of the officer is under forensic exam for extracting further evidence as the officer deleted the entire conversation and exited the suspicious Whatsapp group which was being used for indulging in immoral, unethical (sexual misconduct) activities.”

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