Courts can’t order accused to share Google pin location as bail condition, rules Supreme Court : The Tribune India

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Courts can’t order accused to share Google pin location as bail condition, rules Supreme Court

‘There can't be a bail condition enabling the police to constantly track the movement of the accused and virtually peep into the private life of the accused,’ says a Bench led by Justice AS Oka

Courts can’t order accused to share Google pin location as bail condition, rules Supreme Court

The order came on a petition filed by a Nigerian national and an accused in a drugs case. Representative image/iStock



Tribune News Service

Satya Prakash

New Delhi, July 8

Courts can’t order an accused to share his Google pin location as a condition for grant of bail to enable the police to constantly track his movements, virtually peep into his privacy, the Supreme Court ruled on Monday.

“Imposing any bail condition which enables the Police/Investigation Agency to track every movement of the accused released on bail by using any technology or otherwise would undoubtedly violate the right to privacy guaranteed under Article 21 (right to life and liberty)… This cannot be a condition of bail,” a Bench led by Justice AS Oka said.

Noting that the object of the bail condition cannot be to keep a constant vigil on the movements   of the accused enlarged on bail, the Bench said, “The investigating agency cannot be permitted to continuously peep into the private life of the accused enlarged on bail, by imposing arbitrary conditions since that will violate the right of privacy of the accused, as guaranteed by Article 21.”

It said, “If a constant vigil is kept on every movement of the accused released on bail by the   use of technology or otherwise, it will infringe the rights of the accused guaranteed under Article 21, including the right to privacy. The reason is that the effect of keeping such constant vigil on the accused by imposing drastic bail conditions will amount to keeping the accused in some kind of confinement even after he is released on bail,” it said.

The Bench – which also included Justice Ujjal Bhuyan—set aside the bail condition requiring the accused to share the Google Maps PIN in his mobile device with the investigating officer.

The top court passed the order after Google India explained to it the functioning of Google PIN that, if shared, would enable the police to track the live mobile location of an accused.

The order came on a petition filed by Frank Vitus – a Nigerian national and a accused in a drugs case – who had challenged the Delhi High Court’s 2022 order requiring him to drop a PIN on Google Maps to ensure that his location was available to the Investigation Officer of the case as a condition for his release on interim bail. A similar condition was imposed on a co-accused.

The high court had also asked the accused to get an assurance from the High Commission of Nigeria in New Delhi that they would not leave India and would appear before the trial court. However, the Supreme Court set aside this bail condition as well.

While ordering their release on interim bail, the top court had earlier reduced the bail surety amount from Rs 2 lakh to Rs 50,000.

In a landmark verdict, a nine-judge Constitution Bench of the Supreme Court had on August 24, 2017 declared the right to privacy a fundamental right under Article 21 of the Constitution, saying it was “the constitutional core of human dignity”.

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