WhatsApp chats, which are end-to-end encrypted, can be scanned by government organizations, the Narcotics Control Bureau (NCB) at the High Court of Punjab and Haryana recently said.
Responding to a bail application filed with the High Court by an 18-year-old under section 439 of the Code of Criminal Procedure in a case relating to the Psychotropic Narcotic Substances Act, 1985 (NDPS ), the BCN had said that since the accused’s entire WhatsApp chat was end-to-end encrypted, it could not be opened by the BCN, which was forced to send it to forensic pathologists for its “openness and analysis”.
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BCN Chandigarh argued that the applicant and his father, a co-accused, were found in possession of 520 grams of heroin without a permit or license while driving. They were arrested on February 14, 2020.
BCN told the Court that the applicant’s involvement in the trafficking was established from his conversation with a Nigerian smuggler by telephone and via WhatsApp. Screenshots of the petitioner’s cell phone showing his WhatsApp interaction with the Nigerian provider have been submitted by BCN.
The petitioner’s lawyer argued that the tapes of the alleged WhatsApp conversations between the petitioner – the holder of the mobile phone at the material time – and the contraband supplier, a Nigerian national, had not been revealed or made available. to show the involvement of the petitioner.
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BCN’s lawyer said that the WhatsApp conversation was sent for analysis on April 4, 2021, as it was not deemed necessary earlier in view of the applicant’s confession. The lawyer added that the BCN was subsequently forced to send the WhatsApp conversations for forensic analysis with the intention of submitting its report at an appropriate stage during the trial, which procedure itself is not. against the law.
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Judge Sudip Ahluwalia, who heard the case on May 7 in his order, said the court found no justification for releasing the applicant on bail at this stage. The request is therefore dismissed.