Polity Security Issues

I-T searches are an example of extra-constitutional power

Despite a key Supreme Court judgement in 2017, the article criticises India’s continued judicial deference in interpreting privacy regulations. It emphasises the need for proportionality and stricter judicial review in executive acts by focusing on the unfettered power granted to tax authorities under Section 132 of the Income Tax Act.


  • The Supreme Court decision in 2017 upheld the fundamental right to privacy but had no impact on the interpretation of associated statutes.
  • Section 132 of the Income Tax Act gives tax agents considerable rights, including the ability to conduct searches without a judicial permission.
  • Recent occurrences, such as a lawyer’s raid, have raised concerns about the abuse of these powers and the absence of controls.


  • The continuance of a culture of judicial deference to executive power in statutory interpretation.
  • Section 132 of the Income Tax Act grants tax authorities vast and unregulated authority.
  • In executive acts, there is a lack of proportionality and strict judicial review, suggesting potential abuse of power.

Key Terms:

  • Judicial Deference
  • Section 132 of the Income Tax Act
  • Proportionality
  • Fundamental Right to Privacy
  • Executive Authority

Key Phrases:

  • “Culture of justification”
  • “Judicial Deference”
  • “Doctrine of proportionality”
  • “Wednesbury rule”

Key Quotes:

  • “The promised culture of justification is rarely on show, replaced by a culture of judicial deference.”
  • “Search and seizure powers must adhere to the doctrine of proportionality, ensuring a balance between means and violated rights.”

Examples and resources:

  • The Gujarat High Court is investigating income-tax officers in connection with a lawyer’s search.
  • The evolution of income-tax legislation, including the 1961 Act and following Supreme Court decisions.

Statements of importance:

  • “Post-Puttaswamy, there ought to be no place for the Wednesbury rule, especially when fundamental rights are at stake.”
  • “The state’s power to search and seize must be subject to the doctrine of proportionality.”

Critical Analysis:

  • The paper addresses the inconsistency in judicial interpretation following the Puttaswamy case, emphasising the necessity for a more stringent assessment of executive activities, particularly in matters concerning privacy rights. It calls the applicability of the Wednesbury rule into question and pushes for a more balanced and justified approach.

Way Forward:

  • In light of the Puttaswamy decision, advocate for a reevaluation of Section 132 of the Income Tax Act.
  • In executive acts, especially those impacting basic rights, emphasise the significance of proportionality and judicial scrutiny.
  • In order to prevent against arbitrary executive excesses, a more complete and balanced approach to reading statutes is required.
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