The Hyderabad Police are stopping commuters on roads and checking their phones for chats related to drugs, The News Minute reported on Thursday.
Purported videos from Hyderabad, shared on Twitter, showed commuters apparently unlocking their phones and handing them over to the police.
The video also showed police officers checking identity documents and vehicles.
Telangana High Court lawyer Karam Komireddy told The News Minute that the police has no right to randomly check phones.
“If they wish to do so, they have to do it by following a procedure established by law,” the lawyer said. “What they are doing is an infringement on the right to privacy and is unwarranted, illegal and unlawful.”
However, the police claimed there was nothing illegal about the checking.
“We are not forcing anybody nor are we snatching away their phones to check,” Gajarao Bhupal, deputy commissioner of police, South Zone, told told the website. “People are cooperating and no one is complaining.”
The police officer added that 10 people were taken into custody after the searches, India Today reported. “They were counselled to refrain from criminal activities,” Bhupal said. “For the past two months, we are conducting a special drive against drugs, ganja in the Hyderabad commissionerate and violators will not be spared.”
The police action comes amid an ongoing investigation into the Mumbai drugs-on-cruise case, in which actor Shah Rukh Khan’s son Aryan Khan and seven others have been arrested. The Narcotics Control Bureau has been relying on WhatsApp chats of the accused persons to make their case.