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LAHORE: The Lahore High Court (LHC) held that under the privacy rights guaranteed by the Constitution, data from a mobile phone recovered from a suspect could only be retrieved with the permission of the court.

The court said if an accused was not ready to accord consent, then the officials of the law enforcing agencies at least should take permission from the concerned magistrate to retrieve the data from his phone.

The court said the acquisition of data requires the intervention of the court either by obtaining a warrant in this respect or otherwise an intimation to the court within 24 hours of such seizure.

The court passed this order in a petition of Khalid Mahmood who was convicted by an Anti-Terrorism Court (ATC) for collecting funds for a banned organisation.

The court extended the benefit of the doubt to the appellant, set aside the conviction and sentences awarded to him, and ordered to release him if he was not required in any other case.

The court said that neither the evidence was collected during the investigation of the case nor produced before the trial court that the alleged SIM of a mobile was in the use of the appellant.

The court also said though in this case, the ATC supervised the processes of investigation but no such permission was found on the record; therefore, retrieval of data was without the permission of the court and hence such evidence is ruled out from consideration.

The court also noted that after the arrest of the suspect, no material was collected which could label him as a member of a banned organisation. The court; therefore, said that the prosecution story that the appellant was collecting funds for a banned organisation from the public could not materialise.

Copyright Business Recorder, 2024

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