According to The Indian Express, the Delhi Police Crime Branch, which wrote to Google seeking information about 33 members of two WhatsApp groups following the January 2020 violence at JNU, received a response from the company stating that such details can only be provided after police send them a Letter Rogatory under the Mutual Legal Assistance Treaty (MLAT).
Last January 5, over 100 masked individuals armed with sticks and rods went on a four-hour rampage inside the university, injuring 36 students, teachers, and staff. The case was referred to the Crime Branch after an FIR was filed. So far, no arrests have been made.
While WhatsApp has declined to release information, Google has just responded, stating that the information sought relates to services provided by Google LLC, a firm based in the United States and subject to US regulations. They stated that they would keep the information but would only divulge it after receiving a Letter Rogatory under the MLAT. In such circumstances, Google adheres to established diplomatic procedures.
A Letter Rogatory is a formal request for judicial help from a foreign court in the investigation of an entity in another country. A multilateral legal assistance treaty (MLAT) is an agreement between two or more countries for the collection and exchange of information in order to enforce public or criminal laws.
The email addresses of the 33 pupils and members of the two WhatsApp groups were given with Google by the police. According to sources, investigators had to do this since no WhatsApp groups were found on the phones of students questioned in connection with the incident, implying that the suspects had wiped their chats clean.