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Vigilance probe finds phones of HP babus, politicians intercepted
Pratibha Chauhan/TNS

Illegal interception

  • Prima facie evidence of illegal interception, retention of data beyond authorisation and invalid ground
  • Violation of Telegraph and Information Technology Act
  • Conversation of prominent BJP and Congress leaders as well as some IPS officers recorded
  • Data contained in eight hard discs with over 200 GB recordings

Shimla, June 14
The Vigilance inquiry into the alleged phone tapping has prima facie established that telephones of top politicians, bureaucrats, cops, realtors and journalists were intercepted in violation of the Indian Telegraph Act and Information Technology Act.

The hard discs of CID and Vigilance computers were seized after the Congress came to power last December. Experts from the state science laboratory here scanned the hard discs after which the probe was handed over to the Vigilance Bureau.

The Vigilance and Anti-Corruption Bureau today finalised its report which is likely to be submitted to Principal Secretary (Home) in a day or two. The brief report gives details of the permission for interception sought by the CID and granted by the Home Department among others things.

It is primarily based on the fact that prima facie there is evidence of illegal interception, retention of the recorded conversation beyond authorisation period and non-action on the data collected through interception. Vigilance officials probing the matter chanced upon a conversation of a senior IPS officer that is over two years old, but has not been destroyed.

Another interesting aspect of the inquiry is that the grounds on which the CID sought permission from the Home Department for interception are not strictly as per conditions laid down under the Indian Telegraph Act. The Vigilance has compiled record of request from CID on flimsy and non-specific grounds like ‘money laundering’ and ‘benami money deals’ which do not qualify for interception and, moreover, there was no follow-up action.

It is still not clear when an FIR would be lodged. Several other options are being looked at. However, it is certain that names of some senior police officers and cellular service providers are likely to figure in the FIR, if the government decides to register a case. Some senior IPS officers could be questioned if an FIR is lodged.

The maximum number of telephones that have been intercepted are of Airtel but information has been sought from other service providers like Reliance and Aircel as well.

Sources revealed that phones of senior BJP leaders, including some who were ministers in the Dhumal Cabinet, were snooped upon. Recorded conversation of atleast two Congress leaders, now ministers in the Virbhadra Cabinet, have been found in the hard discs of the CID seized on the night of December 24 and on December 26 last.

“Though permission could not have been given to intercept the phone of these leaders on any valid ground, since they were using someone else’s phone, their conversations got recorded,” said officials.

The Vigilance team probing the phone tapping issue has been able to cull data of telephones intercepted from January to December 2012 from the CID and from July to December 2012 from the Home Department. As many as 1,385 phones were intercepted in the four-year period between January 2009 and December 2012 with permission. Out of this, 257 phones were put on surveillance from July to December 2012.

With the Vigilance and Anti-Corruption Bureau not having the power to seek interception, all their requests were routed through CID. So the chances of any officer posted in the Vigilance coming under scanner is bleak.





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